Movie review – Remake of cult classic all blood and no guts

2011-10-21 13:25

Film: Fright Night 3D
Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, Anton Yelchin and David Tennant
Rating: 4/10

There appears to be a shortage of original scripts in Hollywood. In recent years, we have seen a wholesale raid on films from decades ago. And, sad as it is to report, the remakes have been mere shadows of their predecessors.

A recent example in the horror genre is the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, which didn’t display an ounce of what made the original a cult classic. And now we have Fright Night 3D, which is based on the beloved 1985 film.

An extra visual dimension has been added, but the elements of fun that made the original so popular are missing.

Teenager Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) lives with his single mom, Jane (Toni Collette), in a middle-class suburb of Las Vegas.
Jane has taken quite a shine to her handsome new neighbour, Jerry (Colin Farrell), and it seems that romance may be in the air.

Charley’s geeky school chum warns him that Jerry is a vampire and should not be trusted. Charley, understandably, treats this revelation with bemused disbelief. However, he does agree to help his friend investigate.

It’s an entertaining set-up, but the writers let us down too early in the movie by revealing whether Jerry is – or isn’t – a vampire and, in so doing, miss the opportunity to tease and unsettle us.

So, instead of asking ourselves “Could it be?” or “Are we being unfair and jumping to conclusions?”, we find ourselves at a simple “Oh, I see!”.

With all the troubling question marks having been swiftly wiped off the board, we are left with a bland, unimaginative and overlong tale of everyday proportions – at least by vampire movie standards.

The real terror of any good horror movie lies in the tease – not knowing, not seeing, waiting, expecting. Giving away so much upfront and then padding out the rest of the film with seemingly endless battle scenes between the forces of good and evil is boring.

Movie-goers have been watching vampire heads go up in flames and explode for more than 30 years now. Isn’t there a more original way for vampires to meet their doom?

An amusing angle to the story arrives in the character of the TV “vampire expert”, Peter Vincent – cobbled together from two of the horror genre’s legends, Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.

The boys approach Vincent with their problems, but the magician and TV celebrity’s vampire-hunting persona amounts to nothing more than publicity hype. He’s just as clueless as they are. Vincent is played with camp aplomb by David Tennant.

Undeniably, the film has a strong cast, but having these talented actors serve this insubstantial script is like putting the staff of a luxury hotel to work in a takeaway joint. They may well deliver the best they can, but they have very little to work with. 

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