Fright Night (2011) – 31 Days of Horror: Oct 28

by Jovial Jay

Thanks for tuning in to the discussion for the remake of Fright Night on 31 Days of Horror. I know it won’t suck!

Fright Night (2011) is the remake to the 1985 classic of the same name about a boy and his next door vampire.

Before Viewing

The trailer looks like an updated version of the original film. Rather than being set in a generic cul de sac, this time the Brewsters live outside Las Vegas. Charley is less in tune with the deaths occurring and it takes his friend to point out that the neighbor is a vampire. The mother seems more involved in the film, and there is literally only one shot of David Tennant as the ex horror film star, Peter Vincent. In fact, as a change from the original film, Charley buys a bunch of surplus equipment and goes into Jerry’s house on his own. I’m not sure how this will stack up, since the original is so well regarded, but let’s test out this remake and see if it’s ‘fresh’ or ‘rotten.’

Presented below is the Trailer for the film.

Spoiler Warning - Halloween

After Viewing

The 2011 version of Fright Night is much more tension filled than it’s 1985 counterpart. This version of the film takes place outside Las Vegas, but starts similarly to the original: a new neighbor moves in next door to Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) and his mother Jane (Toni Collette). A nerdy friend of Charley’s, Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) believes that the new neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Colin Farrell), is a vampire. Charley dismisses Ed, but when Ed goes missing, he begins to rethink his stance.

Charley breaks into Jerry’s house to find some proof and discovers a secret area upstairs, with rooms where he is keeping a prisoner. Charley helps her escape and they sneak out of the house, but as soon as they hit a beam of sunlight the girl explodes, having already been turned into a vampire. Jerry smirks behind Charley as he watches this. Charley visits a casino hotel where horror magician Peter Vincent (David Tennant) is performing his show. He asks for help in defeating Jerry, but Peter blows him off.

Knowing he’s in trouble, Charley decks his room out in crucifixes and garlic. His mom and his girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots) think he’s being nuts. That is until Jerry walks into their backyard and rips out the gas line causing the house to explode! The three humans take flight in the family car but Jerry chases them down, destroying the car in the process. Jane shoves a stake through the torso of the vampire, but misses his heart, and the three escape in a passerby’s vehicle.

After looking at some images that Charley left behind, Peter summons him, and Amy, back to give him more advice. Jerry and Ed, now transformed into an undead nerd, show up to kill Peter and Charley. The heroes manage to kill Ed, and wound Jerry, but during the escape, Amy is captured and taken back to Jerry’s lair. Peter still refuses to help Charley, so he goes to a surplus store and purchases weapons he will need to defat the vampire and save Amy.

Once back at Jerry’s house Charley is startled when Peter shows up, and says that he has decided to help out. Jerry attacks them in the basement when it is revealed that Jerry has a whole army of vampires including Mark (Dave Franco) a school mate of Charley’s. Peter starts to turn into a vampire, having been bitten, so Charley decides to use his last resort: he lights his body armor on fire and leaps on Jerry, attaching himself with a carabiner so he can’t get away. He stabs the vampire in the heart, and all affected victims return to their human state. They all go off to their homes happily ever after.

This is real. He’s a real monster and he’s not brooding, or lovesick, or noble. He’s the f—ing shark from Jaws. He kills, he feeds, and he doesn’t stop until everybody around him is dead.” – Ed Lee

This version of Fright Night is much more intense and scary than the original. It changes a few plot points along the way, updating the story for the 21st Century. It also evens out some of the pacing from the original and makes the vampire much more formidable.

The first thing I noticed about the film was that there’s a lot less comedy in this one. While there are a few humorous moments, there’s no tongue-in-cheek nods to vampires or pranks from Evil Ed being played. It’s a straight out horror premise that really digs in. Jerry also becomes much more menacing. In the original film, he’s a romantic vampire, and while scary as his monstrous self, in his human guise he’s very genial. Colin Farrell plays the character with a quiet menace that feels very predatory, much like how Ed described him in the quote above. The film’s soundtrack even has Jaws-like music when Jerry is hunting Charley.

The changes to the plot seem to work well for this version of Fright Night. Having Ed be the one to realize that there’s a vampire instead of Charley allows for a little more tension, as Charley doesn’t have to be the panicky, over-the-top character he was in the original. Also, the addition of a tribe of vampires living in Jerry’s basement, of all the people he’s turned, really ups the stakes (pun intended) for the end of the film. The biggest change is the persona of Peter Vincent. No longer an aging horror actor and television host, he is now a younger stage magician, with the name of his Las Vegas show being “Fright Night.” David Tennant plays him as a Criss Angel type, that really believes in the occult (his parents were killed by Jerry when he was a child), but is too scared to do anything. This change makes the character a little more believable as he has a better motivation to help Charley in the version.

This version of the film also fixes some pacing issues from the 1985 version, specifically the long drawn out club seduction. In the original when Jerry seduces Amy in the club, it’s maybe an 8-10 minute sequence with him hypnotizing her and dancing before biting her. This version just gets right into it, with a much quicker sequence. To balance out the plot, the filmmakers added in the car chase moment which allows for more interaction with Jane, plus gives the audience a chance to see how dangerous this creature actually is.

Finally, the cast of Fright Night is really amazing. Colin Farrell plays the vampire with such an animalistic nature, that the audience can really feel him sniffing out the fear of the characters. If he were not a literal monster, Farrell’s character would still be a dangerous person, and would still be scary. Toni Collette is always amazing in her roles, adding a depth to the mother figure not present in the original. She is hesitant to believe her son, but quickly sees his side of things and tries to protect him. Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots and David Tennant all do real great work with their characters; never taking things too over the top. Their grounded performances increase the tension and danger felt by the audience.

All in all, this remake is well done. There’s enough changes that fans of the original will continue to be surprised by the film. And it’s updated so that fans of modern horror films won’t feel cheated by a defanged monster. I’ll give this film a blood rating of B-positive!

Assorted Musings

  • The original Jerry Dandridge, Chris Sarandon, gets a cameo as a driver that crashes into the Brewster car before being consumed by Colin Farrell’s vampire.
  • A sequel, Fright Night 2, was released direct-to-video in 2013. It had the same characters but none of the actors from this version returned.
  • Toni Collette played another ill-fated mother earlier this year in 31 Days of Horror. She was the family matriarch in Hereditary.

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