Despite my thinking Roddy McDowall underrated, I’ve never seen the original Fright Night; but the 2011 remake was on last week and I thought I’d give it a whirl. I didn’t regret itAs you’d expect from a contemporary vampire film written by a Buffy The Vampire Slayer alumna (Marti Noxon), it was witty and sharp and led by twentysomething actors pretending to be teenagers. It was also, at moments, scary.
It’s sad that watching the protagonist, played by Anton Yelchin, is a reminder of how much his untimely death deprived the World. He plays a nerd graduating into The Cool Kid tier of the school hierarchy like someone who might well have experienced something similar in his own life. Of course, the satirical moral of the story is that you can gravely regret turning your back on the geek culture that made you what you are.
The film’s Las Vegas setting is perfect for a vampire story and, as one of the characters observes, a suburb of a city with nocturnal habits and a transient, showbiz population is the perfect environment for a 21st-century vampire to hide out in. Showbiz is embodied in the story by an excellent, Russell Brandesque turn from David Tennant as a superstar magician with an obsessive, but strictly hands-off, interest in the real-world occult.
The female leads do their bit well, but Imogen Poots doesn’t get much to do beyond being extraordinarily pretty. And typically-Hollywood-too-young mum Toni Colette is almost, but not quite, a cliché.
After a gory-funny cold opening, the plot rightly takes a little bit of time to unfurl its batwings, but the set-up is engaging and assured and leads us, via scary and seemingly insurmountable challenges, to at least two well-judged final showdowns.