In a recent interview with Marti Noxon, she discusses the ill-advised Fright Night remake and says a whole bunch of stuff that vigorously renews my displeasure.
The remake initially didn’t sound so bad. Craig Gillespie is an interesting, if incongruous, choice of director. Marti Noxon may have written some of the worst episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but she also wrote some of the best. The film is supposed to maintain the R-rating of the original, and that’s obviously great news. The casting has proven to be uniformly solid, save Christopher Mintz-Plasse, whom I fear will give an unforgivably milquetoast performance as Evil Ed. His casting does seem to signify an undermining of some of the darker elements of the original Fright Night, but that can be overlooked in the hands of the right director, writer and other principle cast members.
Then we learned that the remake will be set in Vegas. WHAT THE FUCK. Nevermind that the entire crux of Fright Night is “residents in Anytown, USA find it difficult to accept the different (gay?) new neighbors.” Noxon herself claims in the above interview that what she loves about the original is the “Spielberg-ian, suburb vibe.” So naturally that lends itself to Las Vegas, right? True, Las Vegas has suburbs, but setting the film there is just a whole bucketful of point-missing. It’s an egregious dismissal of the dark, subtle, John Cheever undertones that elevate the first film into something more profound than the typical horror farce. Fright Night is not set in Vegas, okay? It’s just not.
Later, we discovered that David Tennant, in a reprisal of the Peter Vincent role so drolly nailed by Roddy McDowall, will be playing a “Criss Angel-type.” What?! Sure, Vincent was a sham in the original, but he was a classy sham. It’s going to take some actual magic on Tennant’s part to play a Criss Angel character that I won’t hope dies as a bloody lump in the gutter.
But oh, not even that bloody. Because now we’ve learned that the remake won’t be “very gory.” Noxon claims that this remains true to the original, but the first film is awesomely gory! It’s absolutely teeming with squishy, gross, marvelous practical effects that will surely be “upgraded” into slick, shadowy CGI and relentless jump scares for the remake. Noxon also maintains that the remake will be scarier than the original, but I simply do not believe her.
Finally, Noxon gave one quote that seems innocuous on the surface but augurs a disturbing development: “A big part of the movie is the relationship between Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) and Evil Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Thematically, it definitely became a question of, ‘What kind of man do you want to be?’ Charley forsakes his old friendships ‘cause he’s momentarily cool. That was a huge touchstone.”
I guess I could have already guessed this by the casting of Mintz-Plasse, but Evil Ed’s just going to be a huge wimp, isn’t he? He’ll be a pathetic nerd crying at home because he’s been left behind by his cooler friend. I can only assume that this progression of the character is based on (original Ed) Stephen Geoffreys’ mocking and iconic delivery of “Oh, you’re so cool, Brewster!” from the first film, but again, that’s missing the point entirely. Evil Ed is annoying as shit and almost certainly wildly unpopular, but he is not a wimp. He is not a nerd. The dude is sinister, long before he becomes a vampire.
So we now have a movie set in Vegas, with a douchebag stage illusionist vampire hunter, a lonely nerd ditched by his cool best friend, and very little gore. Explain to me how that’s Fright Night again?
You can read my review of the original Fright Night here.