The Washington Post

‘Fright Night’ reviews: When a remake goes right

Colin Farrell gets ready to sink his teeth into the “Fright Night” remake. (Lorey Sebastian/AP)

At some point between last year’s release of “Clash of the Titans” and the announcement of the “Dirty Dancing” remake, if not before then, moviegoers started to get fatigued of ’80s remakes. The prevailing wisdom: Hollywood is so bereft of fresh ideas that studios can only take old ideas and rehash them in a way that is invariably inferior to the original.

Now along comes “Fright Night” — the Colin Farrell horror update on the flick that formerly starred Chris Sarandon as the vampire next door — to completely contradict the notion that an ’80s movie remake is always a bad idea.

Reviews for the shocker-comedy are strong; it currently has a 78 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 84 percent positive one when filtered by top critics. That’s far better than critical assessments of the weekend’s other big new releases: “One Day” (29 percent positive) and another ’80s remake, “Conan the Barbarian” (26 percent positive).

In his review for The Post, Sean O’Connell gives “Fright Night” the ultimate remake stamp of approval: “‘Fright Night’ is different. It stands apart from the rehash pack by accomplishing something rival remakes rarely do: It improves on the premise it has been handed, producing a modernized version of a decades-old story that’s superior to its predecessor in virtually every aspect.”

Other reviews are also positive.

A.O. Scott of the New York Times says the film’s final act is a bit tedious but that plenty of provocative, compelling weirdness precedes it.

“In the best ’80s horror-movie tradition, sociological and psychosexual implications hover around the edges of the frame and between the lines of the dialogue without becoming annoyingly explicit,” he writes.

Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon is also a fan: “The remake also modernizes in fun ways — from characters’ use of lock-picking phone apps to its employment of 3-D. I’ve never been a 3D-fan, but here — with vampire talons and fangs that leap out at the audience, exploding fireballs and whizzing arrows — it makes campy sense.”

Alonso Duralde of the Wrap also offers praise, but with a caveat: “The new ‘Fright Night’ is actually an improvement in many ways — it’s good enough, and entertaining enough, and scary enough. It’s just that by Labor Day, you’ll probably forget you even saw it.”

When you’re talking ’80s remakes, that qualifies as a ringing endorsement. So will you see “Fright Night”? And does the mostly positive reception change your mind at all about ’80s remakes?

When she isn’t at a movie theater or writing about movies, Jen Chaney is ... um ... probably at home, watching a movie.


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