Sunday, August 21, 2011

Craig Gillespie: Vacancy for Vapid Vampires (Fright Night)

Colin Farrell, Fright Night, Dreamworks Pictures, 2011.

Tom Holland's original Fright Night was inventive, fun and most importantly, scary. It was imbued with that special glow that 80s teen pictures give off, from Sixteen Candles to The Monster Squad to Heathers. Holland knew how to play on horror nostalgia and teenaged emotions in an intelligent meaningful way.

Unfortunately, Craig Gillespie's remake contains none of these simple charms. The basic rules of progressive horror narrative are ignored in similar snoozefest I Am Number Four writer Marti Noxon's plodding, derivative script, riddled with flat characters and ear sore dialogue. Despite an excellent cast, headed by the always likeable and reliable Anton Yelchin and boosted by a scene stealing, smoldering Colin Farrell as the vampire next door. Toni Collette, David Tennant, Imogen Poots and Christopher Mintz Plasse all fill out thankless roles thankfully.

Pro cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe lights the desert track homes of Vegas gorgeously, and composer Ramin Djawadi's score is brooding and well done. Yet the film that they inhabit is unworthy of their excellence.

Director Craig Gillespie is talented as he has proven in the past with his dark indie comedy Lars and the Real Girl. He displays some of that vision here, attempting to salvage the wreck of a screenplay, unsuccessfully. The transfer of Roddy McDowell's horror show host from the original to David Tennant's Criss Angel magician in the new film does not gel the same. It feels out of place and cringe worthy as the rest of it.

In one weekend, we have seen Marcus Nispel's very good remake of Conan the Barbarian and now a terrible remake of horror classic Fright Night. It goes to show the emptiness in the studios writing department which elicits unnecessary remakes of anything nostalgic they can think of. The strength of any remake is in the writer and director, as in any film. We can have True Grit or we can have Fright Night.

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