Teen vampire flick remake had no bite

Colin Farrell as vampire Jerry in Fright Night
Colin Farrell as vampire Jerry in Fright Night

It seems that so far in the world of cinema, 2011 has been the year of the remake.

Now, I have quite strong feelings about messing around with films that were perfectly formed the first time round.

And for that very reason, plus the fact that I am a massive Arnie fan, I chose to ignore the recent remake of Conan the Barbarian and instead opted to give Fright Night a try.

Having never seen the 1985 original, I thought I would be well placed to give it a fair hearing as a stand alone film.

But I have to admit, the fact a studio had decided to give the film a second incarnation did raise my expectations a little.

It must be really good for someone to want to make it again surely? Well, er, no actually.

Set in a dusty Las Vegas suburb, the story centres around the life of high school teenager Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin).

He has turned his back on his more geeky friends in order to hang out with a cooler crowd and bag himself a hot girlfriend.

One morning at form class registration one of those old friends isn’t there. Charley thinks nothing of it, but fellow geek Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is concerned. He begs Charley to go with him to their missing friend’s house to check that he is OK.

When exploring the empty house, Ed tells Charley that he believes their friend has fallen victim to a vampire. A vampire who is none other than Charley’s new handsome next door neighbour Jerry (Colin Farrell).

Understandably, Charley tells Ed that he is being ridiculous and that there is no such thing as vampires. The pair head their separate ways home.

But the following morning at registration Ed isn’t there either, and now Charley starts to become concerned. Could the suave Jerry really be a creature of the night?

In true teen horror/comedy style the only way Charley can see to confirm his suspicions is, of course, to break into Jerry’s house to investigate and more than likely put himself in mortal danger.

When his suspicions are confirmed and no one he knows believes him, he turns to Peter Vincent (David Tennant), a self proclaimed vampire killer and Las Vegas magician, to help him take down Jerry.

The most frustrating thing about this film is that it had the potential to be amazing. But it ended up being nothing more than another mediocre trip on the vampire band wagon.

Tennant gave an entertaining performance as the coward turned hero Vincent. But he had far too little screen time for my liking.

There was great potential for developing the demon-fighting partnership between him and Charley, but it never happened.

Farrell was a convincing bad guy vampire, but there still seemed to be a little something missing. It all just seemed a little bit bland and vampire flick by numbers.

Films like this, although they have plenty of action, need to have solid foundations.

They need fully developed characters who you invest in and care about. And I have to say there was plenty of room for a few more gags in this comedy horror.

Screenplay writer Marti Noxon, who worked on both the Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel TV shows, could have done better.

This offering had only a faint glimmer of the sparkle that the fantastic characters and story lines of those shows created.

All in all, it was an alright film. I didn’t leave the cinema wishing I could get the last two hours of my life back, but it isn’t a film I will ever watch again.

Claire O’Neill

Star rating HHH