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Fright Night (2011)

Reviewed By Adrian Starland
Posted 08/30/11 19:21:10

"'Vamp' of approval"
3 stars (Just Average)

It's often nothing spectacular when a motion picture "remake" of a generally accepted "classic" gets it "right." It is even less surprising when a "remake" gets it "wrong." The 2011 remake of the 1985 fan-favorite, "FRIGHT NIGHT," has managed to pull off a most unique coup: by SIMULTANEOUSLY getting it both "right" and "wrong" while still managing to make both products look respectable.

First, "Fair Disclosure" time: Although I liked the original "Fright Night" well enough as "got nuttin' better to do" entertainment, it was not liked well enough to remain as part of my permanent DVD library* collection. (*Explanation: when building my personal DVD library, about half of all the titles which found a home there were of movies I'd purchased "on faith"; many were of movies I'd always been curious about but had never seen, while still others were "interesting concepts" which I'd decided to "take a chance" on – both usually with no regrets... the original "Fright Night" fell into that 'former' category.)

But the original "Fright" had a certain "charm" about itself which were it not for many of the "overly silly" aspects of the direction (e.g. the overly-permissive & disinterested mother of a horny teenaged son, the "hypnotic tango" scene, etc.) would've made for a much more interesting and involving film, despite it's "comedic" take on the subject.

But at least the original had that "humor" element and managed to maintain it throughout the run of the film. So after catching brief snippets of what others in print and around the 'Net had to say about the "remake" (always too careful not to read too deeply into someone else's take on a movie, as I'm never desirous to have my own opinions unduly swayed or influenced prior to sharing my own perspectives/insights on the presentation), the one question which kept being raised in my mind was: "Is this movie being 'funny,' yet?"

I found very little "humor" in the remake version, and what few "humorous" moments there were could easily be incorporated as just quirky "sidenotes" of a more "serious-leaning" semi-lighthearted horror movie! So throughout the movie I'd found myself wishing that the creative team behind this "remake" had dispensed with pretentiousness and "played it straight"... it would have made for a much more intriguing reinterpretation of the original.

Now don't get me wrong – for what it was, it was still a "success" and a worthy compliment to the original "Fright Night." Though harder & drier than its predecessor, the "remake" still retained enough of the "spirit" and enough of the "working elements" of the original which help make both movies successful entries.

The selection of the actors to portray the main villain (Chris Sarandon and Colin Farrell respectively) were equally wise choices: both exhibiting a captivating screen presence and exuding an irresistible "come hither" sexy allure, while simultaneously projecting an uneasy foreboding air of the sinister about themselves.

The two different interpretations of the "Peter Vincent" character (Roddy McDowell of the former and David Tennant of the latter) are both "hits" and "misses" for their own particular reasons: McDowell's "Vincent" works because it more closely ties in with the image (false though it may be) of a "vampire slayer," while Tennant's occultist stage magician persona remains unconvincing, but his back-story regarding what led to his delving into the occult seems to lend his version of the character a bit more gravitas.

Also particularly entertaining about the remake is how it approaches and deals with the cliché convention of a vampire needing a "direct invitation" before being able to breach an occupant's household, and treating us to a number of creative & scary methods our night stalker, Jerry, uses to circumvent this inexplicable but for some reason apparently valid restriction.

All in all, what we're looking at is two different movies, each with its own particular take on one particular theme, submitted to us at two opposite degrees of intensity... and both enjoyable in their own right. Each has its share of flaws, as well as its own notable "selling points." In the end however, whichever version you choose, "FRIGHT NIGHT" makes for a good "Popcorn Night."

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