While many films stand the test of time, others fade into obscurity. Whether this happens over a period of years or almost instantly upon a film’s release, one thing is clear: Fright Night has slipped through the cracks of our collective memory to join the ranks of the Films That Time Forgot.
We don’t know who it is in Hollywood who keeps insisting on unnecessary remakes of classic movies. Frankly, we don’t want to know. However, when it comes to the 2011 remake of 1985 cult classic Fright Night, we’re willing to look the other way. Just this once, though.
It retells the story of Charley Brewster, a suburban teen who learns that his neighbor is a vampire. In the 2011 film, Charley is played by Anton Yelchin, who is supported by a truly staggering cast of stars. Fright Night‘s credits also feature Colin Farrell as Jerry (the vampire), Imogen Poots, Toni Collette, David Tennant, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Dave Franco. Star of the original film Chris Sarandon even pops in for a brief cameo.
In all honesty, it’s a pretty by-the-numbers remake. On paper, it’s a simple retelling of the original’s story (with a few minor tweaks to modernize it for the 21st century). But in actuality, it’s a far more entertaining film than we expected.
It May Be An Unnecessary Remake, But Fright Night Is Far Better Than It Has Any Right To Be
First off, let’s air the major issue. Fright Night‘s CGI is pretty poor in places, and its vampire effects almost certainly would have been achieved better if done practically. Other than that (admittedly big) problem, 2011’s Fright Night is surprisingly solid.
It’s probably only fair to say that some of this piggybacks on the original film’s charm. Of course, that’s almost always the case with remakes or reboots, but it’s all the more true here. Even so, the remake knows its strengths, and originality doesn’t need to be one of them. Though it may sound somewhat disappointing, it embraces its status as a needless remake and simply focuses on (re)telling its story well – and it works.
Fright Night’s Stellar Cast Elevates An Otherwise Standard Plot
Perhaps the weirdest thing about the amount of remakes is that they’re actually pretty hard to get right. Follow the original too closely, and it comes off as a cheap imitation. Deviate too much, and you alienate the fans. If it’s played safe, it’s boring, but if it’s daring, it seems disrespectful. It’s a conundrum, for sure.
Fright Night doesn’t really have that problem – or, it does, but it just ignores it. It’s a shameless rehash of the original film, but it employs a staggeringly talented and charismatic cast to make it work. Yelchin is truly excellent as the lead, bringing the slightly nervous but still convincingly badass energy that Charley needs. Farrell is delightfully evil as Jerry, and Mintz-Plasse, Franco, and Tennant all bring an appropriate amount of comedy. Each actor is used to their strengths, and it shines through in the end product.
We still think remakes are dumb. But this particular remake manages to be less dumb than we expected. Though it didn’t ever need to exist, we’re still glad it does, because it’s solidly entertaining and delightfully ridiculous vampire fun.
Summary: A standard rehash of an existing plot brought to life with questionable CGI has no right to be this fun. 2011’s Fright Night is violent, funny, and utterly unchallenging – it simply uses a great cast to tell a good story (even if it has been told before).
Highlight: Colin Farrell’s oddly charming and casually threatening Jerry the Vampire is by far the film’s most magnetic character, and steals every scene he pops up in.