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The Growl Next Door

Fright Night (2011)

Disney Enterprises

The “Fright Night” remake is scary both in terms of its terror quotient and its completely soulless assembly-line filmmaking. Screenwriter Marti Noxon, best known for her work on the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series, has done a credible job updating Tom Holland’s original 1985 setup. But her screenplay is devoid of expositions, solely depending on moviegoers to fill in the blanks and connect the dots. Even after spending 106 minutes with the protagonist, Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin), you still don’t know enough to care about him. If anything, Mr. Yelchin’s congenial presence seems contradictory to the insensitivity his role calls for.

Nevertheless, the movie is indeed scary. Credit the chilling atmosphere to director Craig Gillespie, who is better known for comedies such as “Lars and the Real Girl” and “Mr. Woodcock.” The horror is lean and mean, with a decidedly low body count and much of the gore taking place off-screen. While leaving things to your imagination isn’t exactly the most judicious use of the 3-D format, it is certainly a tried-and-true way to scare moviegoers senseless. You might be too caught up quivering in your seat to stop and question some of Charley’s spectacularly boneheaded decisions. Colin Farrell commands the right mix of malevolence and sleaze as the vampire Jerry. As Peter Vincent, David Tennant seems to be reprising Justin Theroux’s performance in “Your Highness.”

Still, it’s difficult to look past the post-“Scream” self-awareness that at one time seemed smart and meta but now reeks of calculation and predictability. Chris Sarandon, who played Jerry in the original, of course makes a cameo here. Supposedly this little wink and nod would placate fans of the original, but who really gives a damn anymore now that we’re inundated with remakes and reboots. The evanescence of his appearance and the brutality of his character’s demise only go to show the thoughtlessness of this exercise. While it might have reignited interest in the original and its sequel, the new “Fright Night” itself will probably be forgotten 26 years from now when there won’t even be a bargain DVD bin at Walmart for us fish it out of.


Opens on Aug. 19 in the United States and on Sept. 2 in Britain.

Directed by Craig Gillespie; written by Marti Noxon, based on a story by Tom Holland and the film “Fright Night” written by Mr. Holland; director of photography, Javier Aguirresarobe; edited by Tatiana S. Riegel; music by Ramin Djawadi; production design by Richard Bridgland Fitzgerald; costumes by Susan Matheson; produced by Michael De Luca and Alison Rosenzweig; released by DreamWorks Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 41 minutes. This film is rated R by M.P.A.A. and 15 by B.B.F.C.

WITH: Anton Yelchin (Charley Brewster), Colin Farrell (Jerry), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Ed), David Tennant (Peter Vincent), Imogen Poots (Amy), Toni Collette (Jane Brewster) and Dave Franco (Mark).


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