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“’Fright Night’ Remake Has Surprising Bite”


A juicy remake of the cult classic horror spoof, “Fright Night” is sexy, fun and frightening, with a cast having so much fun, it spills out into the audience more rapidly than the buckets of blood seeps off the screen with its 3D effects.  So many smart choices, (the casting of David Tennant to replace original film’s Roddy McDowell, the hiring of “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer” show runner Marti Noxon to write the script) make this a pleasurable creepshow.

Following the basic synopsis of the 1985 original, Charlie (Anton Yelchin) discovers his next door neighbor (Colin Farrell) to be a vampire.  His family and girlfriend are in danger and the teenager must learn all he can about bloodsuckers to stop this demon in his tracks. An “expert” on the toothy villains (Tennant) turns out to be a phony, but he may still be Charlie’s only hope.

Noxon cleverly updates the already whimsical thriller with some modern updates.  Peter Vincent, the Vampire Slayer, was a late night TV show host in the first film, something archaic in this day and age.  Instead, this Peter Vincent lives in the world of Vegas illusionist Cris Angel. Noxon also tweaks the relationship between Charlie and his best friend Evil Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), playing on every teenagers need to be popular even if it means eradicating their past friendships. This tension makes Charlie a more complex character as guilt leads his motivations as much as fear.

Director Craig Gillespie (“Lars And The Real Girl”) makes the most of 3D effects, with blood having an especially gelatinous look that almost splatters onto the first three rows.  Gillespie, not known for horror, creates some crafty suspense scenes, including one in a Vegas disco and an early failed rescue attempt. The action, terror and humor are perfectly blended.

Yelchin makes a fetching protagonist, not a pure soul but one with integrity and enough courage to face off against a bloody foe. Farrell, boyish looking, oozes sex. He makes vampirism almost palatable.  With a devilish smile, he revels in malevolence, paying added attention to stalking and teasing his prey before devouring them. Toni Collette is not given much to do as Charlie’s mom, but she’s a joy to watch as always.  As a Columbian spitfire, Sandra Vergara lends the same caustic humor as her TV-star sister Sofia (“Modern Family”). 

The film belongs to the former Dr. Who. Playing a role far removed as the valiant BBC superhero, Tennant is delectable as a yellow-bellied chicken that hides behind pyrotechnics and folklore, but runs away when the real fangs are before him. Swilling Midori, a particularly odd liquor to drink straight out of the bottle, covering himself in thick black hair and tight leather, he’s a buffoonish but endearing hero.

Remaking “Fright Night” seems like a tired idea, but the writer, director and cast have infused fresh blood in this tale, making it irresistible to light-horror fans. Grade: B+



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