"Fright Night" review / Susan Granger
More than 25 years after its initial release, Craig Gillespie's re-imagining of "Fright Night" shifts from Iowa to Clark County in suburban Las Vegas, Nevada, where a charming yet enigmatic stranger, Jerry Dandridge (Colin Farrell), moves in next door to the Brewsters.
High school senior Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin) and his divorced, Century 21 real estate agent mother, Jane (Toni Collette), are curious why Jerry's windows are blacked out and he has lots of debris, along with a Dumpster in his front yard. But they're not overly concerned, even when Charley's childhood friend, "Evil" Ed Thompson (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), notices that fellow students are mysteriously vanishing and suspects that Jerry may be a vampire who is eyeing the Brewsters and Charlie's "ripe" new girlfriend, Amy Peterson (Imogen Poots), as his next tasty treats. But when Ed disappears too, Charlie begins to notice that Jerry's image doesn't appear in mirrors or show up on cameras. Soon he's questioning his own skepticism, seeking counsel from famed-but-fraudulent, Criss Angel-esque stage magician, Peter Vincent (British David Tennant), who is supposed to be an expert in the supernatural.
Meanwhile, back at home: "You smell that?" Jerry notes. "It's your fear."
Screenwriter Marti Noxon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") balances the comedy and horror elements by integrating both into a contemporary, coming-of-age concept, while director Craig Gillespie ("Lars and the Real Girl") is determined to give the audience a bloodsucking good ride.
Film buffs may recall that Tom Holland's 1985 version starred Chris Sarandon - who appears here in a cameo as Jay Dee - as the sardonic vampire and Roddy MacDowell as the TV monster-movie host, Peter Vincent. If you note a fanged, homoerotic element as Ed's being `turned,' it too can be traced back to the original.
No one can deny the appeal of the current vampire craze, exemplified by "Twilight" and "True Blood," but Matt Reeves' "Let Me In" was far superior.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Fright Night" is a silly, scary 6 -- but don't bother with the 3D gimmick that adds little.