While we patiently await our annual love bite from The Twilight Saga, which has re-invigorated the sex appeal of vampires on the big screen, director Craig Gillespie remakes a cult blood-sucking horror in the de rigueur 3D format.
The 1985 version of Fright Night starring William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowall was a surprise hit at the box office and spawned a lacklustre sequel and a computer game three years later.
Gillespie and screenwriter Marti Noxon adhere closely to the plot of the original, sprucing up the central hunt for fanged fiends with some slickly orchestrated set-pieces that draw blood simultaneously from the horror and comedy veins.
Former Time Lord David Tennant outshines his Hollywood co-stars in the showiest role as a camp, leather trouser-clad Las Vegas magician, whose image as a bed-hopping dandy is shattered by his underwhelming performances between the sheets.
“I’m a great date. Get me drunk, and I’ll try anything,” he quips pathetically.
The new Fright Night benefits from the eye-popping format and Gillespie and his special effects team fling blood and entrails at the camera with giddy abandon to justify the levy on the ticket price.
Ducking out of the way of an airborne wooden stake is all part of the fun.
Geeky teen Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) warns best friend Charley (Anton Yelchin) that the hunky drifter, Jerry (Colin Farrell), who has moved in next-door is a vampire.
“You read too much Twilight!” scoffs Charley, ignoring Ed’s pleas to keep a cross on his person at all times.
When Ed vanishes without trace, Charley wonders if Jerry might be responsible.
As the teenager investigates, using a smartphone web browser to access a page on How To Pick A Lock, he imperils his divorced mother, Jane (Toni Collette), and girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots).
“Your girl Amy, she’s ripe,” whispers Jerry with a lascivious grin. “I bet there’s a line of guys ready to pluck that.”
Thankfully, showman and self-anointed vampire expert Peter Vincent (Tennant) has some valuable tips on defeating the creatures of the night.
Fright Night 3D values spectacle over substance so while Gillespie’s film is painfully light on characterisation and plot, it delivers some terrific action sequences.
A violent stand-off gives new meaning to ‘bringing the house down’ and a late night getaway in Jane’s family car draws inspiration from the freewheeling camera work in Alfonso Cuaron’s Children Of Men.
Farrell is sexy and menacing while Tennant swaggers around as the comic relief, providing sterling support to the ever likeable Yelchin, who vows through gritted and polished teeth, “I’m gonna end it or he’s gonna end me. That’s how it’s gonna be.”
Collette and Poots are woefully underused and serve as fresh meat, waiting to be desiccated.
STAR RATING: ***