Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Fright Night" 2011

This year’s “Fright Night” gave us a perfect example of a remake that hits the basic plot points of a story but manages to completely miss the point. The original was so much more than just a “vampire next door” story. That and the fact that the characters share the same names are almost all that these two films have in common.

In the original, we had a fan of classic horror fiction realizing that such monsters were real and that one lived next door to him. He had to spend a good deal of the movie convincing others of that fact, and then fight the monster to save the day. In the original, he teamed up with a has-been actor who was an expert in the fiction but someone who had to be convinced of the reality of the situation. The film was mostly about faith and believing in a reality that most cannot or do not want to accept.

The new version flips a lot of the older versions points on their head, and to ill effect. In this new story, Charlie has to be convinced by others of the danger he is in. He never once has to try to get anyone to believe in him. The Peter Vincent character in this film is not a pretend vampire hunter; he is a true expert on the reality and danger of the creatures. (Not to mention, a completely unlikable and un-admirable character.)

Did this story even really need updating? Effects-wise, both films are completely competent albeit in two very different eras. The fact is that both practical effects and computer effects ultimately appear faked because they are, and if done on the cheap or done poorly their fakeness is accentuated. In the case of the older version of this story, the effects were cutting edge and expensive for the time. This new film is perfectly adequate, but not interesting or innovative.

The fact that the new version of this story eliminates all of the thought provoking discussion of facing hard to accept reality or faith in general makes it a waste of time. They even duplicate an idea from the original, where a cross cannot be used without faith, but to no purpose because they never clarify the point. The cross simply does not help at all—and yet they continue to employ crosses for protection. Why? Not a recommendation.

(For more thoughts on the 1985 version, see here.)

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