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‘Fright Night’ flick gets a cool update

The original “Fright Night” movie was something of a guilty pleasure from my teenage years. This story of a suburban teenager battling a vampire who’s just moved into the house next door was a nice mix of comedy and borderline scary stuff–and I’m not just talking about the bad hairstyles from the 80s.

Now things get a whole lot cooler, with the inevitable Hollywood remake hitting theaters this week. Anton Yelchin stars as Charlie, a kid living in Las Vegas who notices that his next door neighbor, Jerry (Collin Ferrell) keeps his windows blacked out and doesn’t go out during the day. That’s not unusual in Las Vegas, but when more unusual things start to happen, Charlie comes to the conclusion that Jerry is a vampire.

The problem is that Jerry isn’t a mindless bloodsucker. He knows that the kid next door could be trouble and sets out to nick the problem in the bud (or the jugular vein, if you will). The rest of the film is a battle of wills between the vamp and the teenager who’ trying to protect himself and the ones he loves from the Jerry’s lethal embrace.

“Fright Night” is a lot of fun, and like the 1985 original, it’s a nice mix of comedy and outright scares. Casting Collin Farrell as the villain was a stroke of genius. The actor oozes seductive testosterone, but can also turn on the violent menace in an instant. This is not a mindless caricature, but rather a full-blooded (pun-intended) thinking creature. Watching Jerry using his wits to fight Charlie creates some of the film’s most memorable scenes.

The film also gets points for some nice updates, including smart phones, Cris Angel-style magic shows and on-the-money pop culture references. On the downside, the film’s 3D doesn’t work very well. Oh sure, lots of stuff gets hurled toward the audience, but the already dark images that you need in a vampire film don’t work well with the 3D glasses that make things even murkier. It’s hard to enjoy a movie if you can’t see what’s happening up on the screen.

The solution is simple, go see “Fright Night” in 2D. The film is too good and the performances too memorable to risk not getting the full effect. Not only is this a great remake of the original film, but it’s a solid entry into the horror genre—not at all a guilty pleasure of a movie.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” can be found bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@kboi2.com