Fright Night

2011 Movie Poster
2011 Movie Poster
1985 Movie Poster
1985 Movie Poster

Fright Night

Director: Craig Gillespie

Writers: Tom Holland, Marti Noxon

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Synopsis: A remake of the 1985 original, 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), a self proclaimed vampire killer and Las Vegas magician, to help him take down Jerry.

MPAA Rating: Rated R for bloody horror violence, and language including some sexual references

Original 1985 Trailer

Old vs. New

After watching many recent vampire films, I have to say it's good to see Hollywood go back to basics with the concept. Unlike most modern vampire movies that try to make them seem more sympathetic, the remake to "Fright Night" portrays them as the ruthless killers that myths have always portrayed them to be. Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't mind whenever Hollywood portrays vampires as being more sympathetic if the story requires it, but it's just good to see that Hollywood hasn't forgotten how to make old school vampire films. Where the vampires are ruthless killers, and we're the terrified victims trying to survive in their world. Ah, good old days.

As some of you may know, "Fright Night" is essentially a remake of the 1985 classic horror film of the same name. A young man believes his neighbor might be a vampire, but nobody believes him. As the story goes on, the vampire starts to go after many of the protagonist's loved ones until a final showdown is in order. The boy is literally outnumbered and possibly outmatched, as he's aided with an infamous celebrity vampire hunter, who's not all he's cracked up to be. Although both the remake and original follow pretty much the same basic story line, it's hard to compare them, as both obviously had their own unique styles. The original had more of a "tongue and cheek" dark twisted humor horror style that still holds up to this day. Not only is the original scary, but it also managed to still induce it's own level of camp like humor into the mix.

Whereas the remake, the dark twisted humor is still there along with the frights, but it incorporates a bit of film noir and suspense to it. Plus, the remake adds a few twists to some of the original's concepts like the revamped back story of the infamous celebrity vampire hunter, and the endings are slightly different. However, for the most part, the remake seems to follow the original fairly closely; without compromising it's own chance to distinguish itself either. Granted, the twists and changes used in the remake might seem minor, but you'll be quite surprised on how even the slightest detail can effect each film.

For instance, let's take a look at the main character, Charley Brewster. In the 1985 version, William Ragsdale's character was already convinced there was something suspicious about his neighbor from the very beginning. And unlike the remake, the emphasis of trying to fit in at school to dealing with protecting his mother, in the wake of his father's death years ago, isn't even an issue. If anything, the film tends to focus more on Charley's paranoia of thinking his neighbor could be a vampire, and some of the troubles he goes through to protect his family and friends once it turns out that his suspicions have been confirmed. Again, unlike the remake that uses Charley's discovery as an opportunity to create suspense to draw the audience into the movie, the original uses the discovery to create genuine comedy through horrific tensions. Don't get me wrong, I'm not implying that the original was some sort of spoof, but it did contain a lot camp elements that one would find in a lot of the earlier "Nightmare on Elm Street" films; which makes it more comical and sort of engaging in a lot of ways.

In the beginning of the remake, Charley isn't concerned at all with his neighbor, as he's more concerned about issues that most teenage boys would be worried about like fitting in, school, and girls. Since turning into a senior, Charley has become the big man on campus, as he's dating the hottest girl in school named Amy (Imogen Poots); which is another deviation from the original. Indeed, life just couldn't get any better for Charley until one of his old nerd friends asks him for a favor. Reluctant at first, Charley inevitably agrees to help him, after being black mailed by his old pal, Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). What could Ed want that would cause him to black mail his old friend you may ask? Well, it turns out that Ed suspects that Charley's neighbor to be a vampire, and needs his help. Like most people, Charley doesn't believe him at first, but once he finds out that everything Ed has told him to be true, he starts to become paranoid into this conspiracy as well. From here, the film pretty much sets itself up to create a lot of dramatic tension, suspense and some pretty scary horrific scenes. Hell, I'd have to say this film does a much better job at delivering frights than the original version.

Unfortunately, some of the comedy in this movie has a tendency to feel forced at times, and it's not really as clever as the original when it comes to implementing the camp humor that made the original a cult classic. However, that's not to say the remake isn't that great of a horror film, as it's definitely one of the better vampire movies out there. It's just that some of the jokes they try to implement, to make it still have the same feel as the original, just doesn't come off as clever as before, and a part of you feels that this film may have surpassed the original if they had made this into a straight horror movie instead of a horror comedy. In terms of pure horror value, I would have to say the remake does a far better job establishing the frights.

Of course, I'm sure a lot of fans of the original might get mad at me for saying that, but please hear me out before passing judgment. The fact that the main character, Charley, isn't already paranoid about his neighbor, at the beginning, only helps the viewer identify with him almost immediately, as he's just a normal kid that goes through everyday problems. Like the viewer, he gradually gets sucked into the world of vampires, as the film plays itself out. Gradually, building up to the suspense that naturally helps make the elements of horror more scarier. Whereas the original, the audience is already thrown into the concept that vampires exist, as we're forced to watch a character that's already convinced his neighbor is a vampire before establishing any credible proof. Granted, it works well when setting up the more comical elements that the original displayed, but it doesn't quite deliver on the scary moments like the remake does. Don't get me wrong, I think both takes on the character are fairly interesting, and I certainly would recommend either film. However, I would have to say Anton Yelchin plays the better Charley than William does, as Anton's version is more believable right from the start. Not only does the movie play out well through his eyes, but you can immediately connect with his character in a lot of ways; which makes it easier to root for him throughout the film. Whereas the original Charley, I liked him a lot too. However, because he was shown as already being paranoid from the very beginning, you don't immediately connect with his character; which makes it harder to get into the movie right away. Don't get me wrong, he does manage to make you laugh at some of his antics, but I'd have to say the remake version of Charley is the best.

Of course, lets not forget about our celebrity vampire hunter, Peter Vincent; played David Tennant and Roddy McDowall. Again, both actors did a fairly good job playing this part, and both offered their own unique style and twists to the character. Without giving away the twists involved with both the remake and original versions of the character, the remake's Peter Vincent is a lot less comical, and more cynical than the original. Plus, unlike the original, the remake gives Peter a revamped back story that causes him to have a deeper connection with the main protagonist. Which on the one hand, it does allow for a deeper story, and it allows the viewer to fully embrace his character a lot easier. However, on the other hand, the original Peter Vincent was a lot more comical in his performance. Sure, he didn't have the deep back story that the remake version had, but the twist to the original Peter was a lot funnier to see play out. Overall, I would probably say both Peters filled out their roles rather well, as it's kind of hard for me to pick between them. Granted, the remake had a deeper back story for Peter; which only helped the viewer identify more with why he's helping Charley. But as I said before, the original focused more on the comical aspects of horror; which allows for the twist on Vincent's character to be just as potent as the twist the remake version has.

However, let's not forget about the vampire antagonist played by Colin Farrell and Chris Sarandon respectively. Like the last two characters, I thought both interpretations were handled rather well for what each perspective film was going for. Colin Farrell shows a dark sense of humor in this movie, and he's certainly every bit as charming as Chris was in the original. However, unlike Chris' version, Colin's vampire is a lot more menacing, and scarier by far. Not only is he unmerciful towards his victims, as his cold blooded expression has he hunts down his prey only helps intensify the horror even more. In fact, I was a bit surprised how ruthless Colin's character was in this movie. Not only did he try to kill Charley and his friends, but he literally burned down his house in order to draw him out. For you see, vampires can't enter a person's home unless they're invited. However, there's nothing against the rules that a vampire can't enter once the house burns down. Indeed, Colin is bit of a mixture of Chris' interpretation with the dark twisted sense of humor, and Arnold's Schwartzenneger's cold blooded terminator.

As for the original, he was menacing, but he was more calculating if anything else. Unlike the remake, Chris' vampire does offer Charley a choice to leave him alone out of some deranged sense of mercy, and he'd gladly leave Charley alone in return. Whereas Colin's vampire, once you knew who he was, then you're dead. I think in the end, both actors play a great vampire, but I would have to say Colin Farrell plays a much darker version of the character.

Overall, I think both the original and remake warrant their own merits. Both are fairly good for what they're trying to do. Although, I would say the original works better at mixing in the elements of horror and comedy together. But, the remake is by far the scariest between the two, and offers a deeper insight into the characters. In the end, I'd have to give both movies a three out of four. Both are fairly entertaining, but both suffer from being highly predictable. However, if I had to pick one that was better than the other, then I'd have to say the original is slightly better. The only reason I say that is because the original does a better job at implementing both the comedic and horror aspects together. However, both films are equally just as good. I'd highly recommend either one if you're looking for a scary movie to watch on a Friday night.

The 2011 Remake Trailer for Fright Night

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Comments 19 comments

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

The new version does seem a LOT scarier. I thought the original was mostly camp, which is okay but not scary. This would be a great Halloween movie to watch. Thanks for the review.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

Nice review Steve...I am not much of a horror fan, but I did go and see the original at the theater oh so many years ago....and I liked it very much....Roddy McDowell was great as the old vampire hunter. So it is good to see the new vampire hunter brings something to the new version as well. As always you have written an entertaining and informative hub.


JBunce 5 years ago

I've been seriously contemplating whether to make this one of those infrequent movies I see first run ever since learning that Mart Noxon, Joss Whedon's script editor and frequent writer on "Buffy", was co-writer. Now I'm even more interested. Great review.


healthmedical profile image

healthmedical 5 years ago from Philippines

Reading your review on the movies make me wanna watch them both. I think you did great assessments on the movies. I will surely watch these movies.


waynet profile image

waynet 5 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

It'll be something to watch anyway. Loved the original Fright Night so I will be comparing the two myself when I see this one...Great review!


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago Author

@paradise7

Your welcome paradise, and thank you for stopping by. :)

@Cogerson

Thanks cogerson. that means a lot coming from you, as I know you probably follow a lot of different film critics on hubpages, so I appreciate that. Yeah, it was kind of interesting comparing both the original and remake a bit, as both followed the same basic story, but in a rather different way. It was pretty interesting. Although, I prefer the original, I still think the remake is a great film in it's own right. Anyway, thanks for stopping by again. :)

@jbunce

Thanks JBunce. I'm glad you liked it, and I hope you enjoy the film if you decide to see it. I'll definitely be sure to look for your review on it if you do. Anyway, thanks for stopping by again. :)


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago Author

@healthmedical

Thanks healthmedical. I'm glad to hear that you liked my review on both films. I hope if you do decide to see them that you'll enjoy them both as much as I did. If not, then more so. anyway, thanks again for stopping by. :)

@waynet

thanks waynet. I'm glad you liked the review. I hope you like the remake whenever you get a chance to see it. You should write a hub on it, as I'd be interested to read your thoughts on the new one. :)


jfdaysleeper profile image

jfdaysleeper 4 years ago from Canada

I don't know why I haven't watched this movie yet! But your review makes me want to watch it even more!

Thanks!


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

Cool. I hope you enjoy the movie whenever you see it, and thanks for the comment.


jfdaysleeper profile image

jfdaysleeper 4 years ago from Canada

Watched it last night. Enjoyed it, brought me back some good memories. But the story had a different twist from middle to end that I'm not sure I liked. But overall enjoyable.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

that's cool. well im glad you found the remake enjoyable then; even though your not sure about the twist. sure it's a bit different than the original, but it could've been as bad as most remakes tend to be. anyway, thanks for stopping by, and happy labor day weekend.


KBEvolve profile image

KBEvolve 4 years ago from United States

I tried to watch this movie, but I found it dull. The original has a certain character at least.


jfdaysleeper profile image

jfdaysleeper 4 years ago from Canada

I thought the Charley character was more complex in the remake, like Steven mentioned. That's what makes the remake appealing. Otherwise, would have been same old stuff.

I was surprised but found it fun that the vampire make-up and effects were very similar in design on the remake.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

@kbevolve

well to each their own. anyway, thanks for stopping by to check out my hub. :)


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

@jdaysleeper

Yeah, those are some very keen observations you made in your last sentence, as i wished i would've remembered to mention that too in my review, but i think both versions have their own unique appeal; although i kind of prefer the original myself. but then again, i think the remake has a more engaging protagonist. anyway, thanks again for offering some of your insights on the film.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State

I was a big fan of the original "Fright Night" but still enjoyed this one, there were just enough "tweaks" to differentiate it from the first film so I didn't feel like I was sitting thru a re-run.

The cameo appearance by Chris Sarandon, who played the vampire in the original, was a nice touch.


jfdaysleeper profile image

jfdaysleeper 4 years ago from Canada

He did a cameo?! Gosh! I missed it!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State

Yup, he was the driver of the car that "Charlie" and his Mom collided with on the highway when they were escaping,..


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

hmmm..i think i too missed that cameo. damn, im going to rewatch the remake now just to see that cameo. lol. thanks for the heads up freddy.

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