31 Days of Horror 2022 – Revisiting ‘Fright Night (2011)’

For fans of the classic 1985 vampire film Fright Night, this October is going to be a fantastic month. On October 14th, the film gets released in a souped-up 4K version, alongside hours of extras. I can’t wait to check that out, as Fright Night remains one of my favourite films of all time.

As well, the original’s writer/director Tom Holland has just released Fright Night: Origins, a digital novelization of the original film (a paperback is due out later in November). I’m halfway through reading it, and so far, it’s great, as it gives significant backstory to all the lead characters.

Clearly I’ve been in a serious Fright Night mood, and this past week I wound up doing something I thought I’d never do; revisiting the 2011 remake, directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Marti Noxon. Fright Night (2011) sees Colin Farrell take on the role of Jerry Dandridge, originally portrayed by Chris Sarandon, the late, great Anton Yelchin plays Charlie Brewster, Christopher Mintz-Plasse makes Evil Ed his own, while David Tennant steps into the glorious shoes of Roddy McDowell as Peter Vincent, Vampire Killer.

I wrote a review of the film back when I first saw it in theatres eleven years ago, one I didn’t remember much of until I went back and reread it. I definitely walked into that Fright Night screening with a ton of baggage, and didn’t really get much out of the film. However, more than a decade removed, I found myself enjoying and accepting Fright Night (2011) far more than I did at the time.

I didn’t remember how great the performances were in the film, and rewatching I was genuinely into Colin Farrell’s take on Jerry Dandridge. He’s got the same sexiness that Chris Sarandon has in the 1985 film, but Farrell’s take comes off as far more menacing. His Jerry has got a serial killer vibe to him, and seems to embrace his bloodlust in a different way than Sarandon’s Jerry did. In the original Fright Night, we’re given a few moments where we could sympathize with the vampire, but there’s no such moment in the remake. Farrell does great work, carving out his own unique, diabolical vampire.

The other showy part in Fright Night (2011) is David Tennant’s Peter Vincent. Unlike Roddy McDowell’s washed-up schlub, gone from starring in movies to hosting a local TV show featuring them, Tennant’s character is a big name magician at the peak of his powers. This Peter Vincent is crass and cocky (and a cocksman as well), but he’s also given a real history with vampires. Tennant is excellent in the role, and like Colin Farrell, carves out his own, distinct take on a beloved character.

It took reading my old review to remember that the film was originally screened in 3D, and I’d say that it works absolutely fine without that format. Meanwhile, Martin Noxon’s script manages to deliver some new set pieces, rather than aping the original’s, with the finale being drastically different and just as good. There’s some solid gore throughout Fright Night (2011), and there’s one jump scare that I had zero memory of and that managed to scare the shit out of me when it happened.

The biggest problem that Fright Night (2011) has is the same it had when it was first released, and that’s its name. Rebooting/remaking a classic is always a dicey proposition, and I think this version has been lost to history as yet another pointless remake. However, I genuinely think the movie is very close to being it’s own thing, and I very much enjoyed it upon this rewatch. While I don’t think it’s the classic the original is, Fright Night (2011) is far better than I remember and is worth discovering for anyone that loves vampire movies.

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