Fright Night

4 stars

As smooth (like butter) as David Tennat’s tight leather pants, director Craig Gillespie’s remake of Fright Night is an equally revealing look at the how, the why and the when of remake necessities.  Why?  Because it absolutely works.  The original film, directed by Tom Holland, was released in 1985 and quickly became a staple in cult film lover’s film lists.  It scared us and, more often than not, made us laugh.  It was a hell of a good time…which is why everyone is a bit apprehensive about this film.

Simply put, no one asked for this remake.  No one.  Yet - with much fun and much faith in the original (almost down to its acting beats) - Gillespie maneuvers his film in a successful and respectful manner that never once feels insulting or second-rate.  Blasphemous as it might sound, this Fright Night feels a bit bloodier and amusingly fresher than the original.

Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is in the middle of his first teenage crisis.  He’s outgrown the use of his childhood geeked-out best friend, Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).  With no time left for chasing wild-haired suspicions about folks and folklore, he ignores poor Ed and chills with his new friends.  He’s got a hot new girlfriend, Amy Peterson (Imogen Poots), and is relatively well-off in his comfortable Las Vegas suburban digs with his mother, Jane (Toni Collette).  He also has a new neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Colin Farrell).

Life is good for Charley.

That is, until Ed disappears.  In fact, a lot of the citizens of Las Vegas are vanishing.  When Charley goes to investigate his friend’s absence, the recorded evidence he discovers from Ed’s well-documented “research” points toward an unsettling conclusion about his new neighbor.  Jerry is a vampire.  With no one but the cheesy Vegas magician theatrics of Peter Vincent (David Tennat) to turn to, Charley finds himself battling the forces of vampiric darkness (in 3D) on the road, in a penthouse, and in his once-quiet neighborhood.

Sinking two fangs into the necks of its viewers, Fright Night is a meaty affair full of gore and laughs and little bare skin (a little disappointing for its R rating).  The dialogue is quick and crisp and fairly witty in its modern settings.  While it works much better when it celebrates its claustrophobic neighborhood settings before trading them for the Las Vegas stage, the film never yawns while it stretches the scenery for some highway Spielberg-esque (think minivan scene in War of the Worlds) camera trickery and tension.

Yelchin’s boyish charms and knowing quips never disappoint and Farrell, while more comedic than threatening as the main vampire, is a satisfying and spooky old-school neighbor who must be invited in (even to borrow some beer) before he can do harm.  While it should be heralded as how remakes should go, Fright Night might be too modern (in the iPod vs. Discman sense) for its hardcore fans and, yet, for those teens seeing it for the very first time, perfectly suitable for their ever-changing world.

Gillespie’s Fright Night was filmed with 3D cameras and it shows with great moments of depth and effects.  For once, the 3D works brilliantly throughout the film and even becomes part of some of the gags in the movie.  There is a lot of depth to the framing of characters and objects and the honest 3D revels in it.  Vampires burn up and ashes dance in front of your eyes until they suddenly disappear.  Smoke rings seem to float out into the audience and even explosions crackle at the screen with lingering wisps and licks.

The action is premium and the laughs are spot-on.  It’s really up to audiences to make this thing a hit; it certainly deserves to be one.  That being said, I know really good and really scary horror/comedies aren’t always received well.  Drag Me to Hell anyone?  Fright Night might make less use of Evil Ed and may even have fewer scares than the original but, in spite of its weak links and fancier fangs, the film feels a bit more satisfying than the beloved original.

I know, I know.  Revoke my “cool” card now.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Fright NightMPAA Rating: for bloody horror violence and language including some sexual references.
Director: Craig Gillespie
Writer: Marti Noxon
Anton Yelchin; Colin Ferrell; Toni Collette; David Tennant; Imogen Poots; Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Genre: Comedy | Horror
Memorable Movie Quote: "That is a terrible vampire name. Jerry?"
You can't run from evil when it lives next door.
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date: August 20, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date:
December 13, 2011

Plot Synopsis: Teenager Charley Brewster (Yelchin) guesses that his new neighbor Jerry Dandrige (Farrell) is a vampire responsible for a string of recent deaths. When no one he knows believes him, he enlists Peter Vincent (Tennant), the opportunistic host of his favorite TV show, to help him take down Jerry and his guardian.

{2jtab: Blu-ray/DVD Review}

Fright Night - Blu-ray

Component Grades
Blu-ray Disc
4 stars
4 stars
Blu-ray Experience
4 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - December 13, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); DVD copy
Playback: Region Free

Featuring a meaty 1080p Blu-ray transfer that bleeds strong as well as it bites, Touchstone and Dreamworks have done themselves and fans of the film well.  The inky black levels are spot-on and maintain their clarity even in the daylight.  From the opening frame to the closing few seconds, sharp is the contrast and warm is the palette that practically glows with wonderful detail and a pop that does more for fabric texture than noticed on the silver screen.  Hues are consistently strong and vibrant throughout.  It’s a transfer that welcomes digital filmmaking and the future detailing it deservedly promises.  The audio – presented here in a fabulous DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack – is also top-notch.  Full of glossy surround detailing, the sound put out almost puts the viewer in audio shock; perfect for a scary good time with the lights out.



  • None

Special Features:

It faded quickly from cinemas everywhere.  A true shame because it is a film worthy of its remake/update.  Unfortunately, the extras are a bit too lighthearted to bring anything of true value to the film.  There’s a short about the characters in the film that assumes they are real and explores the possibility their existence brings to its magic act.  There a short “Making Of” featurette that is humorous, but also a bit too effortless.  The cast and crew riff on the horror/comedy genre for all of 8 minutes.  There is also a look at six - Ride to School; Neighborly; Once a Freak, Always a Freak; Midori & Kerosene; and Back at the Penthouse - extended/deleted scenes.  Rounding out the collection is a brief collection of bloopers and Kid Cudi’s video to “No One Believes Me”.

  • Peter Vincent: Come Swim in My Mind (2 min)
  • The Official "How to Make a Funny Vampire Movie" Guide (8 min)
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (5 min)
  • Squid Man: Extended & Uncut (3 min)
  • Bloopers (3 min)
  • Kid Cudi Music Video (5 min)
  • DVD Copy

{2jtab: Trailer}