I can’t remember why but I was quite excited about Fright Night upon walking into the theatre. I don’t think I saw the trailer, I hadn’t heard any buzz, good or bad, and nor had I seen the original; perhaps it was my gut, but my gut was wrong.
A remake of the 1985 film of the same name, Fright Night centres around a high school kid (Yelchin) with a fairly unique problem; he fears his next-door neighbour (Farrell) is a vampire. When people in the local area start to go missing, however, Charley can no longer live idly by, so he searches out famed magician, and vampire-nut, Peter Vincent (Tennant), and sets about the enviable task of trying to kill the blood-sucker off.
Because it so rarely has an impact on your viewing experience, 3-D would usually be side-note in my reviews, and even then it’s normally just “see this film in two dimensions, the 3-D adds nothing,” but here, it actively impedes the whole experience.
Given that Fright Night is a vampire movie, it was always going to be largely filmed at night or set in dark and dingey spaces. That, or there’d be a whole lot of bodies burning up from minute to minute. What the producers should have done therefore, is brightened up the whole film, ala. the various prints that went out for Avatar, but on the 3-D Fright Night print, the 30% desaturation is never gotten back, and for most of the film, it’s near-unwatchable. Because the picture is so drab and dulled, you can’t pick out details aside from the actors front and centre, while even removing your glasses won’t help as the conversion blurs even that in the foreground. To make matters worse, the 3-D is very poor in itself, endlessly your eyes are being pulled back and forth, making attempts to focus without any actual depth perception available on-screen.
So I think we’ve established that the visuals left something to be desired, surely the story can offer more? Well, sadly not. Fright Night follows a strange four-act structure that was completely mismanaged by the director and writers. Revealing that the next door neighbour is a vampire at the very beginning, Fright Night kills off any sort of tension or suspense usually built up in these sorts of films, as people are snatched and hooded figures wander around in the shadows. After that it struggles to thrill even in the high octane scenes; such a lack of momentum mean even a chase won’t have you on the edge of your seat.
In an unexpected bonus, Anton Yelchin is actually OK, delivering lines and all, while David Tennant is pretty funny too – by far and away the best thing about the whole film – and Colin Farrell has a some menace, but Fright Night still struggles to feel like anything other than a vampire knock-off of Disturbia. Even Platinum Dunes make better remakes than this.