It's a case of fangs, but no fangs for this flat remake of the 1985 cult horror movie Fright Night. With a distinct lack of chills, plenty of boredom, pointless 3D and Colin Farrell deploying a Joey Tribbiani 'sniff the fart' acting style, 'S**te Night' would be a more appropriate title for this vampirical howler.
Playing a duller version of his titular character in the fantastic Charlie Bartlett, Anton Yelchin portrays Charley, led to believe by his nerdy pal Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) that new next door neighbour Jerry (Farrell) is a vampire. Alas, Charley's mother (Toni Collette) is more focused on his dashing looks than any bloodsucking propensity.
Amidst various scenes bereft of tension, several locals go missing and Charley eventually steps up his investigations alongside his woefully-underwritten token love interest (Imogen Poots). Let's just say that Jerry is not pleased when he discovers his lair has been infiltrated. He's not the only one feeling peeved...
An impressive cast is given little chance to shine by the lifeless dialogue, inadequate characterisation and turgid pacing. Only David Tennant's flamboyant turn as a foul-mouthed vampire expert recruited by Charley in the film's latter stages manages to transcend the mundane material. Channelling a combination of Withnail and Russell Brand alongside an emotional bereaved undercurrent that permeated his incarnation of a certain Time Lord, Tennant instills a desperately needed dose of flair into proceedings.
As the audience's main point of identification, Yelchin provides his usual likeable presence as the 'inbetweener' trying to play it cool to impress the ladies while masking his geeky inclinations. Yet it's a tough proposition to root for this supposed hero's plight, due to the bland lines he constantly spouts and the generic perilous situations in which he is placed.
The attempts at frightening the audience are incredibly stale and blatantly signposted, epitomised by a POV shot of Charley leaning into the spyhole of a door to take a peek. Can you guess what happens next? It's a copycat sequence witnessed in countless horror movies over the years - with vastly diminishing effect.
The lack of a compelling villain is crucial to the film's failure too, with Jerry's 'characterisation' consisting of little more than overlong shots of Colin Farrell trudging around looking either a) smouldering or b) sinister. He has nothing interesting to do whatsoever and Craig Gillespie's lacklustre direction fails to give Jerry any sense of dynamism or menace. Hence poor Farrell is left to flounder in Tribbiani mode.
Apart from one exciting and technically impressive car chase, Fright Night lacks the required spectacle to compensate for the scripting deficiencies. As for the 3D element, it consists of a couple of objects flying out from the screen with inadequate visceral impact. Releasing the film in this form appears to be a cynical financial exercise, rather than anything pertaining to an artistic imperative.
By the time Fright Night's end credits finally roll, it feels like most of the blood has been sucked dry from your veins. Apart from David Tennant being allowed to showcase his skills, the cast's undoubted talents are bafflingly squandered by the of the source material. If you wish to sink your fangs into a good movie revolving around a morally dubious neighbour, watch Disturbia instead.
> Imogen Poots in an exclusive Fright Night video
> David Tennant, Colin Farrell Fright Night character posters
> Fright Night: Colin Farrell, David Tennant horror in pictures