Vampires have been defanged for too long. Since they were sent to the world of teenage romance they just haven't been as much fun, or nearly as scary. Fright Night attempts to rectify this situation by at least bringing back the fun. There are some general thrusts in the direction of scary, but the focus is firmly on the fun.
This is a Halloween horror, but Christopher Mintz-Plasse's presence is a clear signal that we are also looking at a teen comedy, though the lead is taken by the talented Anton Yelchin. Yelchin plays Charley Brewster, a Las Vegas teen who has grown out of those awkward, geeky years and has now entered a cooler phase in his teendom, even managing to nab a hot girlfriend in the form of Amy Peterson (Poots).
Then Jerry Dandridge (Farrell) moves in next door and the locals start to go missing. Ed Lee (Mintz-Plasse), Brewster's old pal from his geek days, believes there is a connection: Jerry is a vampire. As anybody who has seen the original 1985 Fright Night can tell you, Ed's right.
It takes a while to convince Charley of this supernatural truth, but eventually he comes around to Ed's way of thinking, and naturally tries to protect his mother and girlfriend from Jerry.
Colin Farrell mercifully does not attempt anything so camp as a Transylvanian accent and instead sticks to a rather neutral American one, and has a ball. You get the distinct impression that Farrell would happily play this part for the rest of his life as he seems to be having so much fun. He even manages to squeeze in a reference to his role in Minority Report, for a lark.
Yelchin, meanwhile, plays justified paranoia to a tee, even if a sense of fear overriding teenage hormones is a tad unrealistic - turning down an offer to hop into bed with the girlfriend in order to spy on the neighbour.
Amy is a breath of fresh air as a girlfriend character. Girlfriends in movies tend to disappear if they are merely a subplot, telling the geeky hero to explain what's going on or they'll leave with the quarterback. But that's not Amy: she sticks by Charley and offers him a fair amount of leeway as he's obviously going through something. It's great to see a strong relationship in a teen (non-romance) movie.
When the threat posed by Jerry the Vampire becomes too much, Charley turns to Las Vegas magician and 'vampire hunter' Peter Vincent, named after horror heroes Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. Vincent is played by David Tennant, who channels his inner Russell Brand and has never been so camp.
Fright Night is genuinely funny, so it's quite a useful one for tricking horror-phobic girlfriends into going to see (I know I will). But it is also a decent horror - good threat, a few jumps and a respectable amount of corn syrup (fake blood) tossed about the place. The 3D isn't necessarily a good call, though. Objects do get thrown out of the screen with annoying regularity and the murky world of horror lighting doesn't show up too well in a 3D projection.
Farrell fans will love it as he's really fantastic as the baddie, and those who hate Farrell will love it too, because immortality means his character can receive many excellent injuries.