Fright Night / Craig Gillespie / 2011 / threestar

Active Ingredients: Casting; Highway scene; Horror/comedy ratio
Side Effects: Rushed ending; Peter Vincent character

Like the 1985 original, this year’s remake of Fright Night understands that the primary ingredient in any good horror film must be fun. The original film was just one of a slew of great campy 80s classic that added a healthy dose of comedy to the dependable thrills of the horror genre. Happily, Craig Gillespie’s remake keeps to this formula, and, after almost a decade of grim torture porn, the loose, unselfconscious fun this film delivers is a true breath of fresh air.

Anton Yelchin and Colin Farrell are well-cast as the insecure high-schooler Charlie, and the suave vampire that moves in next door. Whole families have been disappearing from their Vegas homes and eventually Charlie points the finger at his new neighbor. This film moves significantly faster than its 80s counterpart, but while that makes room for the inclusion of a terrific highway sequence and some creepy and suspenseful trips to the neighbor’s house, it cuts down on the meaty, patient development of the original film’s conclusion. Without the extra time spent cementing Charlie’s relationship with both his girlfriend and the vampire, this film’s finale feels rushed and slightly unsatisfying.

Gone too are the many show-stopping, lovingly-created makeup effects and transformations typical of 80s horror/comedies like An American Werewolf in London. Still, Gillespie’s film gets the care-free, tongue in cheek tone of the original just right, and hopefully it heralds a return to the days when horror was, above all else, a lot of fun.