VOD film review: Fright Night
James R | On 23, Mar 2014
Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant
Watch Fright Night online in the UK: Disney+ / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
After Let the Right One In and its quick-to-follow remake Let Me In, the help-my-neighbour-is-a-vampire routine might seem like it’s getting a little old. But not, it turns out, when Colin Farrell’s living next door. Full of menace, pointy teeth and charisma, Farrell’s Mr Bitey is way more impressive than his name suggests. “Jerry”? It’s hardly Count Dracula. But the actor’s intense presence keeps things tense throughout.
A remake of the 1985 cult favourite, the new Fright Night may well annoy fans of the original – although there don’t seem to be that many about. A camp, fairly fun affair, the first Fright Night was amusing but never hilarious, and intriguing but never terrifying. Judging on those qualities alone, this modern update is very faithful.
Anton Yelchin plays Charley, a teen trying to shake off his geeky past to get off with popular student Amy (Poots). It seems to be working, even with the spectre of former Warhammer buddy Ed (Mintz-Plasse) hovering around. Then along comes Jerry (Farrell), a guy who lives in a blacked-out house, doesn’t come out in the daylight, and has enough charm to sweep Charley’s mum (Collette) off her front porch. Is he a vampire? Almost definitely.
The question is answered far faster than in the original, which hinged on the conflict between doubt and belief. Craig Gillespie’s version hinges more on the conflict between the suspected bloodsucker and his prey – or the conflict between David Tennant and his tight leather trousers.
Playing exuberant stage magician Peter Vincent, Tennant swaggers about like Russell Brand with loud abandon. He fulfils his role as rowdy comic relief even if he doesn’t convince as a vampire expert (no thanks to a dreadful backstory that takes itself too seriously).
Still, Fright Night is a thrilling piece of entertainment. Marti Noxon’s take on Tom Holland’s screenplay removes a lot of fluff and inserts some good set pieces. Gillespie uses the deserted Las Vegas location well, although the overlong 3D climax has a little too much CGI for its own good – it says a lot that the tension is highest when Farrell is simply standing still by Charley’s back door, trying to charm his way into the kitchen. Fright Night has fun with its cast, giving Mintz-Plasse something to sink his teeth into, but it works best when Farrell’s just trying to raid the fridge.
Fright Night is available on Disney+ UK, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription or a £79.99 yearly subscription.