Who'd've guessed that a remake of a campy 25-year-old film would save vampire fans from the cesspool of soap operas that has polluted the once-proud genre? But director Craig Gillespie's take on "Fright Night" is a bloodsucking horror film shot through with enough humor to make vampires fun again.
"Fight Night" stands as proof of the value of assembling a top-flight cast. Anton Yelchin (only barely still able to play a teen) stars as Charlie Brewster, who comes to learn that his new next-door neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell, whose career renaissance is now officially complete) is a vampire with an eye for Charlie's gorgeous girlfriend (Imogen Poots) and mom (Toni Colette). Realizing that he's out of his depth, Charlie turns to Peter Vincent (David Tennant), a Vegas magician, for advice on killing vampires in preparation for a final showdown.
Whether he's sniffing the "neglect" on Charlie's mom or playfully singeing his fingernail in a shaft of sunlight, Farrell is clearly enjoying himself. With his compact build, ashen skin and easy swagger, he's pure predator, a landshark on the hunt. He and Yelchin dance around one another, slowly realizing just how much each knows about the other. As good as the cat-and-mouse between Yelchin and Farrell is, it's David Tenant's turn as Peter Vincent, a Criss Angel/Dave Navarro hybrid, that puts the film over the top. One moment he's a petulant Absinthe swilling magician whining of leather-induced jock itch, the next he's an avowed coward.
Marti Noxon (who currently writes for "Mad Men") learned how to blend vampires and humor during her stint on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", and it's clear she's retained her gift. Noxon's script and Gillespie direction have enough self-awareness and brains to let you in on the jokes, without coming off as ironically detached or too clever. And for fans of the original, they show the film a proper amount of respect, including a huge tip of the cap to the first "Fright Night" and its star.
Colin Farrell & Craig Gillespie on "Fright Night"
The film's greatest failing has to be the 3D, which Gillespie uses too often to throw blood at the audience—the first time it's delightfully gross, but by the film's end it's just tiresome, and otherwise gets little to no use. You get the sense it was made in 3D 'cuz they had the budget and technology, not because it served the story.
With no handwringing teens, werewolves, superheroes or other such nonsense, "Fright Night" returns the vampire film to the moral simplicity that made them fun in the first place: There's a monster killing our women—let's get 'im.