Review: Fright Night 3D

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reviewer: Harry Davenport
Rated: 15 (UK)
Release Date: 2nd September 2011
DirectorCraig Gillespie
CastAnton YelchinColin Farrell , David Tennant , Toni ColletteImogen Poots

The original Fright Night was made with love and admiration for old vampire B-Movies, creating a modern version – albeit one that is now very 80s. The result was a charming, exciting and funny horror film. It has been remade, and this new version has none of the things that made the original so great. The film is by the numbers and is slightly duller than ditch water.

1985’s Fright Night is by no means perfect and so the idea of a remake is not a crime, unlike The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Omen. It was a low budget film that managed to be one of the best vampire films of the decade. The 2011 movie is simply tiring and predictable. There is no point doing an exact remake, so here they have made a few changes, but every decision made is a mistake.

The film has the same story as the original: a teenager discovers that his next door neighbour is a vampire and goes about trying to uncover and eventually kill the monster with the help of his girlfriend, nerdy best friend and a celebrity with supposed knowledge of vampires. The original builds to an exciting climax, while this film tries to spread the action out across the entire length. All tension is lost in the process.

Anton Yelchin, who has recently been doing great impressions as Walter Koenig in Star Trek and Michael Biehn in Terminator Salvation, here is doing his own thing, rather than doing an impression of William Ragsdale (the original Charlie Brewster). He is absolutely fine, but we don’t get a chance to warm to him. This might be because he is dating the absolutely stunning Imogen Poots. He is playing a nerdish type but when he has such a good looking girlfriend it’s hard to see him as an outcast. In the original, Amanda Bearse played the love interest and was really just the girl next door, so the relationship was more believable. Poots is good in the film and deserves more lead parts but she is just a little too attractive for the role of Amy; great to look at but it takes away from the everyday setting of the film.

The role of the geeky best friend, ‘Evil’ Ed, is played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who continues to play everything as McLovin, his part in Superbad. So here we have McLovin the vampire slayer. The original ‘Evil’ Ed became somewhat of a cult character, being brilliantly played by Stephen Geoffreys, whose career unfortunately went off the rails and ended up starring in hardcore gay pornos such as Butt Blazer and Guys Who Crave Big Cocks. Hopefully Mintz-Plasse does not go down a similar path.

Colin Farrell plays the vampire that terrorises the neighbourhood. Farrell is capable of being both menacing and funny but is neither here. Chris Sarandon (who is given a far too brief cameo) was wonderful in the original, being sinister and totally believable. There’s a straight out line in the movie that it isn’t Twilight but looking at Farrell you could be fooled. He poses and looks brooding; he is seen without his shirt working in the front garden, and when he is clothed he wears particularly tight t-shirts and jeans to show off his body to make girls swoon. Just as they cast Imogen Poots to be the attractive girl, here they have Farrell (who can be very masculine) as a sexy metrosexual. In the original Sarandon was bizarrely old fashioned and at time flirtatious with both women and men, creating a character whose intentions you could never guess. Farrell’s next film is the remake of the classic Total Recall, directed by Len “can we make it more blue” Wiseman. Hopefully it will be better than this attempt but I am dubious.

Roddy McDowall was hilarious as Peter Vincent in the 1985 version, playing a cowardly has-been actor known for ridiculous vampire films who now presents the horror show “Fright Night”. Here we have David Tennant dressed as Russell Brand, a magician of sorts who hosts a huge live show at a Las Vegas casino. He ends up being the biggest disappointment in the film simply because McDowall was so good in the original. It isn’t Tennant’s fault, who does the best he can with the material; the camp character that endlessly drinks the melon liqueur Midori is not a patch on the original. The film makers misuse Tennant’s talents.

There was room for some interesting ideas. The film is set in a small town near Vegas in the middle of the desert, potentially a great location, but they keep heading to the city, completely neglecting the isolation of the town. Considering how cheap the original was, you would assume that this would have better gore effects but this isn’t the case. Most of the effort has gone into the 3D. This is, as almost always, redundant and irritating. They could have used the original’s idea of making it an homage to B-Movies and referencing the use of 3D in the films of the 50s and 80s; instead we simply get a lot of embers flying around in front of us. It also contains one the worst 3D moments yet, as a DJ throws free t-shirts at the audience. Pathetic.

See the original. Rent it, buy it, just don’t go to the cinema to see the remake; it is a waste of time.

Movie Rating: 2/5

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