"Fright Night's" Colin Farell and Anton Yelchin. (DreamWorks)Link
"Fright Night's" David Tennant and Anton Yelchin. (DreamWorks)Link
"Fright Night's" Emily Montague and Colin Farell. (DreamWorks)Link
"Fright Night's" Anton Yelchin, in a protective mood. (DreamWorks)Link
"Fright Night's" Emily Montague and Anton Yelchin. (DreamWorks)Link
"Fright Night" posterLink
Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the film “Fright Night,” a title that’ll be back in theaters Friday with a bloodsucking remake by filmmaker Craig Gillespie, who has shown a flair for outsider spirits of a very different sort with his 2007 feature film “Lars and the Real Girl” and his work on the series “United States of Tara.” Our Geoff Boucher caught up with the Aussie director to find out more about the new movie, which tells the tale of a high school student (Anton Yelchin) who suspects his neighbor is a vampire.
GB: What can you tell us about the tone of the film?
CG: When I first read the script, that’s what I got excited about. Marti Noxon had written a script that was such a great mix of comedy and horror. I had a friend that, when I was thinking about different projects, said to me, ‘Why should you do this project over 12 other directors?’ ” For me the answer was the tone. The tone is always such a tricky thing to get in a script when you’re doing a mash-up [of different genres], but she had written such a strong sense of tone into the screenplay that I thought I could get that and make it distinct and make it fun and scary all at once. The hardest part of the equation after that is getting the cast.
GB: You’ve got a cast led by Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette and David Tennant. Did you find them to be especially nimble when it came to the black comedy moments?
CG: You have to get the cast that can walk that line. You need actors that can be dramatically invested but they can do comic relief at the same time. This is a movie that came together so quickly. All the stars aligned. I wasn’t looking for this kind of project — I read the script almost reluctantly. I thought, “Oh a vampire film, there’s so much out there.” But it was so good and I just couldn’t get it out of my head … . Three days later I met up with Anton and I needed someone you could buy as someone who was a geek when he was younger but was just now coming into his own, someone who was grounded and has a self-confidence. Then we got Toni, which was great. We started thinking about Jerry and Colin’s name came up and we thought he would be perfect.
GB: Colin plays Jerry, a man who is suspected by his neighbor of being a vampire. Colin has shown he can play a killer with a disturbing gleam in his eye – in “Daredevil” for instance – is that something that you needed?
CG: You needed someone who seemed like they were having fun with it … . You think about the great films with this type of character, as sadistic and twisted as they are, they seem to be enjoying themselves. Colin can walk that line. He’s very charismatic but he’s got the sense of humor that seems a bit twisted. He was our first choice and I managed to meet with him and I tried to be very specific about the tone of the movie, and along with that he fortunately was a huge fan of the original and we managed to get him … . Something that’s simple on page, he can make it more complex.
GB: It’s difficult to throw a wooden stake these days and not hit a vampire. They’re everywhere in pop culture, and their portrayals range from the truly grotesque to pretty-boy romantic. How did all of that inform the choices you made on “Fright Night”?
CG: It’s a good point and honestly it was the reason for my reservations before I picked up the script. There’s just so much stuff out there. But [Jerry] is basically a serial killer … he’s approached in this incredibly pragmatic way of how he gets around, how he survives without being detected. He needs to feed. He’s basically an animal. And in terms of getting his senses going, when he has a caged feed it’s not as exciting to him. He needs the chase. He’s got to get his fangs up so to speak. [The script] also leaves out the romantic side, which has been done so much and so well through the years with the love lost through the centuries. It’s a very thematic part of vampires, and just to take that out gives us a different feel; he is just existing, he’s been around for 400 years. He’s bored to death and in a way it makes him more reckless.
GB: The original “Fright Night” isn’t known by most young moviegoers today, but many fans who do know the name might have a protective feeling toward the movie and its legacy. Remakes are tricky business. What have you learned about that?
CG: It’s both a challenge and an opportunity. Fans of the original tend to be protective, and I totally understand that. At first I didn’t want that to be part of the equation. What I had in front of me was a really great script with a clear tone and I knew how to do that movie. I wasn’t that familiar with the original … . Then [after we were ready to start and] literally just two weeks before we went to shoot I picked up the original “Fright Night” and watched it just to make sure we could pay homage when necessary. I thought it would be a nice way to respect that film. And that worked for us. At the end of the day, as long as the film can stand on its own and be respected on its own, people are very forgiving. But if you make a bad movie, it’s going to be a bad movie whether it’s a remake or not. It’s just going to get more grief if it’s a bad movie that happens to be a remake.
– Geoff Boucher
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