I was lucky enough to win a couple of passes to an advanced screening of Fright Night last night. Coincidentally, it wasn’t so long ago that I had Ali watch the original and within a week of that viewing, I learned David Tennant, the 10th Doctor himself, would be playing the part of Peter Vincent in the remake of the 80s Comedy/Horror flick. There’s been a fairly aggressive social media blitz to build buzz for Fright Night 2011, with a website, a facebook and a twitter, and contests to get internet cloud kids to spread the word by hosting ‘Feeding Frenzy‘ parties that would garner them points to win prizes, but I have to admit, blitz aside, the trailers and clips from the movie had me fairly psyched to check it out.

I’m not a big Colin Farrell fan, but he’s had his share of cool and dangerous roles in films like Miami Vice, S.W.A.T. and In Bruges, so I thought his turn as Jerry Dandridge the Vampire was a solid choice. More interesting to me were the casting of Anton Yelchin (Chekov in J.J. Abram’s Star Trek) as Charley Brewster; Christopher Mintz-Plasse of Superbad and Rolemodels as “Evil” Ed; and the aforementioned David Tennant (Doctor Who, Harry Potter) as Peter Vincent.

Once the movie was underway, the guys I went to see delivered as expected, but it was the ladies that brought more than a pleasant surprise to my viewing experience. Imogene Poots as Charley’s girlfriend Amy, Toni Collette as Charley’s mom Jane, and Sandra Vergara as Vincent’s take-no-shit foil Ginger, were not only gorgeous and exciting to watch, but they held their own, and every time they went on camera, I wished they would come back. That may be due in part to Marti Noxon (Writer and Co-Producer on TVs Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Prison Break and Mad Men) having written the screenplay.

But that isn’t to say the guys weren’t awesome. Farrell obviously had a great time vamping it up. I will have to have a Vamp-Off when this thing comes out on DVD to see just how he stacks up against Chris Sarandon’s original Jerry Dandridge, but having seen it recently, I gotta say it’s pretty close. The CGI/Prosthetic effects aren’t overdone here and I don’t think they take too much away from Farrell’s own performance. Anton Yelchin has a lot of ups and downs to navigate, and what the script lacks in transitions, he makes up for with his eyes. Puppies take notes from this kid! And Tennant fans will NOT be disappointed. The man can’t help but be a scene-stealer (all the more impressive when Sandra Vergara steals moments from him).

Fright Night 2011 might be seen as a stripped down version of the original, though, as Jerry’s wardrobe is usually a t-shirt and jeans and his home, except for his study, is bare walls and unfurnished rooms. Charley’s home gets a little more character, but we’re not in it long enough to get the homey feeling.

Perhaps it’s because the budget may have been focused on Peter Vincent’s trappings. In the original, Roddy MacDowell played a campy host of late night horror movies; in the update, David Tennant plays a Las Vegas Magician with a theatrical show and an addiction to amassing occult artifacts via ebay.

But I feel like I’m starting to get on the spoilery side of summary, so I’d better wrap this up. The story hews pretty close to the original, and adds a layer of after school special, then throws in a few tweaks and modern innovations to keep it moving, so I’ll give that three and a half stars. The effects are at times subtle, astonishing and gut-wrenching, and the 3D direction is sometimes heavy handed, but for the closet gore fan it will bring a smile to your face, so three and a half stars again. The best thing that Fright Night 2011 does? It stays true to its Comedy/Horror roots in that it has fun with both the laughs and the scares, so I gotta give the acting four out of five stars. Overall, it’s a great date flick, you’ll cling tight to the one you bring, and it slaps young girls in the face and reminds them “This is real ok he’s a real Monster and he’s not Brooding or Love Sick or Noble He’s the Shark From Jaws He Kills he Feeds and he doesn’t stop until everyone around him is dead.” Well said, McLovin, well said.

Fright Night hits US Theaters August 19, and UK Theaters Sept 2.

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