Starring Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant, Imogen Poots
Directed by Craig Gillespie
Before DreamWorks released their updated spin on the 80s classic FRIGHT NIGHT (which also happens to be this writer’s favorite genre flick of all time as well), I was pretty nervous their efforts would muck up the legacy of the best vampire film of its time but thankfully, I was pretty pleased with the efforts of director Craig Gillespie in delivering an updated twist on Tom Holland’s original story. Upon revisiting the FRIGHT NIGHT remake for a third time on Blu-Ray (and in 2D no less), the reimagining still holds up and I feel like I find new things to appreciate about the film each and every viewing.
In case you missed it in theaters earlier this year, let’s bring you up to speed. In the 2011 FRIGHT NIGHT Gillespie and company waste no time immersing viewers rather quickly into the world of Charlie Brewster (Yelchin). A former geek that used make backyard sci-fi movies with fellow outcast (and best friend) “Evil Ed” (Mintz-Plasse), Charlie finally has everything going for him. He’s left his dorky past behind him (including Ed), he’s no longer an outcast at school and he’s dating Amy (Poots), the proverbial hot girl with a heart of gold.
However, in this incarnation of the FRIGHT NIGHT story, it’s Ed that discovers Charlie’s new neighbor Jerry (Farrell) is a bloodthirsty vampire who’s snacking his way through their isolated subdivision on the outskirts of Las Vegas. After Adam, one of their close friends goes missing Ed pleads with Charlie to help him uncover the truth about what happened to their long-time mate, asking him to do some investigating into the matter right after school. Charlie, who’s desperately trying to put his geek past behind him, tries to blow Ed off, but Ed’s having none of that- if Charlie doesn’t show up, he plans on releasing their home movies to the entire student population, ultimately killing Charlie’s chance at any kind of a social life.
Of course, Charlie’s hesitation with meeting Ed stems from the fact that he’s a bit pre-occupied with the fact that both his hottie girlfriend and his mom (Collette) seem to have both fallen under the spell of the new mysterious neighbor Jerry, who oozes both charisma and sex appeal with every syllable that spills from his lips. Charlie can sense that there’s something he doesn’t like about Jerry but chalks it up to the guy just being a good-looking alpha male that may want to bump uglies with both his mom and girlfriend and no one really ever likes to see their girlfriend (or their mom) get hit on. After Charlie reluctantly leaves the leading ladies behind to go investigating with Ed, he gets the whole rundown on just how dangerous Jerry is from Ed, who had been following Jerry around for days along with the now missing Adam.
Ed explains to Charlie that Jerry is the culprit behind a recent string of disappearances in the area and through his reconnaissance he discovered that Jerry is much more dangerous than your average serial killer- he’s actually a vampire. Charlie initially scoffs at the idea that a night stalker has taken up refuge next door to him, but Ed warns Charlie about Jerry, telling him, “This guy is a killer. He’s the fucking shark from Jaws, and he’s just going to continue to eat his way through the neighborhood until he’s stopped.” Ed desperately pleads with Charlie to help him kill Jerry, but like their friendship, Charlie just accepts Ed’s stories as his inability to “grow up” and tells him to stop reading “Twilight” and ultimately blows Ed off, leaving him frustrated and emotionally wrecked.
And that’s when things start to get really interesting.
The next day Ed has gone missing, and Charlie begins to realize that maybe there might be something to what his former best friend was trying to telling him. Charlie discovers Ed’s research in his bedroom and sees for himself- Jerry is most definitely a vampire and an incredibly dangerous one at that. From there a cat and mouse game begins between Charlie and his fiendish neighbor once both realize the other is on to him, and the stakes (pun intended) continue to get raised for Charlie as Jerry threatens both him and the people he loves most.
A desperate Charlie reaches out to Vegas performer Peter Vincent (David Tennant), whose stage show at the Hard Rock Hotel centers around the occult, the supernatural and vampires in particular. Charlie approaches Peter in a last-ditch effort to figure out how he can defeat Jerry under the guise of a reporter asking Peter about vampire mythology as part of a feature assignment. But Charlie’s journalist façade comes crumbling down once he can no longer contain his real reason for the visit, and in a fit of anger Peter throws Charlie out of his apartment, leaving the teenager to fend for himself against his bloodthirsty neighbor.
For those of you who haven’t seen this incarnation of FRIGHT NIGHT, I won’t go on for it would ruin a lot of the surprises in store for you from there and for those of you who may only know the original- even though the 2011 FRIGHT NIGHT hits a lot of the same beats as its source material, that doesn’t mean writer Marti Noxon hasn’t cooked up a few surprises either. But overall, as lifelong fan of the original, this FRIGHT NIGHT is still a completely entertaining film on its own merits and still remains my favorite remake of the year.
Revisiting the flick in 2D actually ended up working in favor of FRIGHT NIGHT as I found myself enjoying more of the atmosphere this time around so while I definitely enjoyed the film in 3D, it’s still a great movie in only two dimensions as well. In fact, a lot of the visual and special effects I didn’t particularly care for in 3D actually seem to look more naturalistic in 2D so if you’re not a fan of the eye-popping 3D gimmick, FRIGHT NIGHT in 2D should work great for you.
In terms of sound and picture quality, the FRIGHT NIGHT Blu-Ray is unsurprisingly stunning. Since I wasn’t able to check out the 3D Blu-Ray I can’t really attest to the quality of that presentation but the 2D version of the FRIGHT NIGHT looks pretty spectacular with colors popping and the murky palette looking crisp in high definition.
The FRIGHT NIGHT Blu-Ray Quad Pack also features a bevy of bonus goodies including several deleted scenes, a gag reel, a collection of “Frightful Facts & Terrifying Trivia,” a mini-mockumentary called “Peter Vincent: Swim Inside My Mind,” “The Official How to Make a Funny Vampire Movie Guide” mini-doc, the hilarious short film “Squid Man: Extended and Uncut” (an extension of the flick you see Yelchin watching during FRIGHT NIGHT) and the uncensored version of Kid Cudi’s “No One Believes Me” music video directed by FRIGHT NIGHT helmer Gillespie.
Sadly, the “Swim Inside My Mind” mockumentary is lean on a running time and I would have loved to see David Tennant take it just a bit further with his Peter Vincent shtick for the featurette. The “How to Make a Funny Vampire Movie Guide” wasn’t necessarily a laugh-riot but it does have a lot of cool behind-the-scenes moments captured including shots of Chris Sarandon (Peter Vincent) and some great looks at the special effects work (some of it better than you see in the FRIGHT NIGHT remake actually). The FRIGHT NIGHT deleted scenes don’t add much but they probably would have added just a little dimension to a few of the supporting players in the film. The gag reel has a lot fun moments in it (always fun watching special effects gags go wrong!) and if you’re a hip-hop fan, you’ll no doubt enjoy the Kid Cudi video (if not, you’ll probably want to skip it).
Definitely the highlight of the FRIGHT NIGHT supplemental material though was definitely the “Squid Man: Uncut” short film which was really cute and fun stuff (and totally brings back memories to anyone who made silly movies in their backyards with their friends growing up). The one glaring omission to bonus material on FRIGHT NIGHT is a formal commentary track which I would have enjoyed seeing here but alas, it was not meant to be.
For those of you who enjoyed the FRIGHT NIGHT remake and feel like it’s a flick you’ll enjoy on repeated viewings, picking up the Blu-Ray is pretty much a no-brainer. But for those of you who may not have seen the 2011 version of FRIGHT NIGHT yet (or you may still be on the fence about the flick), the price tag for both Blu-Ray version remains pretty steep (around $25 for the regular Blu, $30 for the 3D Quad Pack) so either the DVD or a VOD rental might be more up your alley.
Overall though, Gillespie and company did a fantastic job on the FRIGHT NIGHT remake by delivering enough twists to give fans something new but also did a great job still paying homage to Holland’s original classic, keeping its legacy alive.
Movie- 4 out of 5
Special Features- 3.5 out of 5