If you weren't around in 1985 to enjoy it, the original Fright Night is worth a Netflix rental, thanks to its fleet-footed approach to the vampire genre and a lovely performance by Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent, a late-night horror-show host who helps teenage hero Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) defeat the bloodsucker (Chris Sarandon) living next door.
The new souped-up version, also called Fright Night, isn't bad as far as these needless remakes go. It's for the most part well cast, contains some slyly wicked scenes that equal anything in the original, and expands some of the characters in interesting ways. It's a shame, then, that the movie botches its version of Peter Vincent, and even more unfortunate that the third act is a furious mishmash of unsatisfying plot developments, unexceptional confrontations and, depending where and how it's viewed, 3-D blurriness.
On the plus side, 22-year-old Anton Yelchin (Chekov in the Star Trek reboot) is believably conflicted as the teenage protagonist, Toni Collette nicely fleshes out her role as his mom (the part in the original was a nonentity), and Colin Farrell is aces as Jerry, the suave, sexy vampire who prefers tight T-shirts to billowy capes. Changing the setting to a Las Vegas suburb, where transient neighbors aren't as likely to be missed should Jerry elect to sup on one, is also an inspired move. Yet Peter Vincent (named in '85 as a tribute to horror legends Peter Cushing and Vincent Price) is no longer a poignant figure - a fading actor-host with nothing but memories - but has instead been reconfigured as a boozy Vegas magician (played by Doctor Who's David Tennant) who (insert eye roll here) sports a Batman-esque past that largely leads to the late-inning shenanigans. Given this character's British accent, flowing mane, boozy disposition and initial air of insouciance, it's a wonder they didn't bypass Tennant altogether and just send the limo to pluck Russell Brand off the Arthur set.