Fright Night (2011)

(On Cable TV, May 2013) Nobody asked for this remake, but as it turns out, this updated take on the fondly-remembered eighties horror/comedy is pretty good on its own merits.  Fright Night pleasantly skips over most of a conventional first act as the teenage protagonist quickly discovers that his preposterously charismatic neighbor is a vampire.  Mayhem quickly ensues, in good bursts of memorable action beats.  The film’s biggest asset is probably Colin Farrell, all animal magnetism as the vampire antagonist.  The teenage protagonists are competent enough to make us root for them, but Farrell is the one who holds the picture together, proving once again that a strong antagonist helps a lot in defining a movie’s impact.  The pacing of the film gets faster and better as it goes along, while the direction has a few noteworthy touches here and there –the best being a quasi-subjective chase sequence in which our screaming protagonists are stuck in an SUV trying to escape a relentless opponent.  The deserted Las Vegas suburb in which the film takes place adds an unusual creepy atmosphere, while the 3D effects aren’t too obtrusive when seen on a flat screen.  While this new Fright Night isn’t and won’t become a classic, it’s a well-executed film that does not dishonor its inspiration.  There have been considerably worse horror remakes out there in recent years, and this isn’t one of the bad ones.

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