‘Fright Night’ Movie Review

Movies
on August 25, 2011
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Starring Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin & Toni Collette
Directed by Craig Gillespie
106 min., rated R
Release date Aug. 19, 2011

No matter how bad your neighbor might seem, be thankful he’s not a vampire!

An ’80s cult classic rises from the grave in this slick, sexy remake, in which a suburban teen (Anton Yelchin) discovers the dude next door (Colin Farrell) works the graveyard shift down at the ol’ fear factory.

The new Fright Night adheres to the basics of 1985 original as the harried Charley realizes his hot-to-trot girlfriend (Imogen Poots) and his single mom (Toni Collette) will both become fang fodder unless he stakes out a plan of attack.

Director Craig Gillespie (Lars And The Real Girl) keeps things light and lively with a balance of scares and giggles pitched to the older-teen demo that will be most tuned in to the movie’s mix of horror clichés and high-school hormone-ics.

More “seasoned” viewers (that is, anyone old enough to remember the 1985 version) will get a kick out of seeing Chris Sarandon, who played the suburban stalker in the original, in a cameo as an unfortunate motorist who finds himself this time on the other side of the bloodsucking after a highway fender bender.

David Tennant, who starred in the title role in the latest TV version of the British Dr. Who series, hams it up as a cheesy British Las Vegas illusionist and occult expert who comes to Charley’s aid. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is Charley’s nerdy friend Ed, whose theory about why the neighborhood is going to hell turns out to be dead right.

The original Fright Night wasn’t any slice of classic cinema, but it did deliver a decent dose of giddy, goose-bumpy fun. The new version follows in that vein, contemporizing things with some hi-tech touches (Charley picks a lock with how-to instructions from his iPhone) and a handful of 3-D, computer-generated gimmicks that just weren’t possible in ’85.

And both versions tap into a bigger, broader, basic question that has puzzled socialized humans ever since we started living behind locked doors: Just how well do we really know the people just beyond our walls—and what unsavory things might they be up to?

Halloween is two months away, and there will be several other scare-your-pants-off movies opening in the weeks to come. By the time the trick-or-treat candy is being handed out, Fright Night will probably be a faded, monster-mash memory.

But if you’re looking for an appetizer to the even bigger jeepers-creepers jolts just around the corner, it’s good for a nibble.

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