Comic-Con 2011: FRIGHT NIGHT Panel Recap

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Fright Night is a film with a cult following and it doesn’t automatically lend itself to a remake.  You’re in a tricky place where the original probably doesn’t have the widespread awareness a studio would like and then the cult is wary of any attempt to remake a movie they love.  But director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl) is attempting to show he’s up to the task and he’s got a great cast leading the film: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette, and David Tennant.  But it’s still a movie that could go either way and Comic-Con is a great opportunity to for the film to prove itself to both the cult and the uninitiated.

Hit the jump for my thoughts on the Comic-Con presentation for Fright Night.

fright-night-posterThe panel begins with Gillespie comes on stage and says we’re going to be seeing some clips today.  He says they’re not allowed to say “fuck” too much in Hall H (totally not true; ask Guillermo del Toro) and that they’ve cut out some that are in the clips.  He then brings on Colin Farrell but it turns out it was a little too early so Farrell pretends like life is being rewound and he walks backwards off screen.  Now the real first introduction is screenwriter Marti Noxon, then Farrell comes back, followed by Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots (Farrell pulls her chair out for her), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (and Yelchin pulls out his chair for him), and as a surprise, Chris Sarandon (who played Jerry in the original) comes out to moderate.

He reads off a question mailed in by the Yahoo! Movies fans and they want to know why Gillespie wanted to direct the remake.  He says he read the script without really remembering the original and he liked the blend of the horror with the humor.  Noxon said she wanted to write the film because she was fascinated by Charlie (Yelchin) and Ed’s (Mintz-Plasse) relationship and to write a vampire who “didn’t play the piano” but a character that would play to the strengths of someone like Farrell.

In the first clip, Ed tries to convince Charlie that Jerry is a vampire.  Charlie thinks Ed reads too much Twilight and more jokes are had at Twilight‘s expense.  The clip does a good job of  showing the humor but the 3D makes it look so damn dark.  Sarandon asks Yelchin what attracted him to the role of Charlie, and he responds that the character doesn’t really know what he wants and what’s important and in losing his best friend and having to fight a vicious vampire he comes to understand who he really is.  Sarandon says that in the original they really focused on the relationships between the characters and the remake has the same dedication to developing those relationships.

The next clip is “neighborly chat” and Jerry comes by Charlie’s to borrow a six pack of beer.  The clip is already online and you can check it out below:

Farrelly was originally reluctant to play Jerry in part because he was such a fan of Sarandon’s performance and he was such a fan of the original.  He was dubious when he heard about the remake but he warmed to the script and having done some serious films, he wanted to have some fun.  He also felt that Noxon’s script went in a new direction and that they weren’t rehashing the original and Farrell felt he wouldn’t have to compete with Sarandon.  Farrell then jokes that because of his personal history, of course the clip they show has Jerry going to a kid’s house to get beer.

The next scene is the car chase, which Sarandon is in, but he’s not in the clip.  The scene begins with Charlie telling his mom (Collette) not to let Jerry into the house and the mom and Charile’s girlfriend Amy (Poots) think Charlie’s crazy.  That is until Jerry, having his request to enter refused, goes into the back yard, pulls up a gas pipe and ignites to explode the house and flush out his prey.  Charlie, Charlie’s mom, and Amy jump into the mom’s minivan and start driving away.  Jerry pursues and we go into a long take where we see everything from inside the mini-van.  It’s a good idea in concept but ultimately it feels like I’m watching three actors surrounded by a green screen.  Furthermore, the 3D not only darkens the picture, but it also makes the CGI look far worse.fright-night-movie-image-david-tennant-02

The final clip takes us into the lair of Peter Vincent (Tennant).  Charlie goes to Vincent for help to deal with Jerry.  Tennant looks like he could steal the film as he slowly peels off Vincent’s fake wig and facial hair and basically laughs in Charlie’s face when Charlie asks about how to kill a vampire.  Judging by these clips, it seems like the humor works far better than the action.

Tennant sent in a recorded message to express his disappointment that he couldn’t be here in person and he also told folks in the room that if they texted in to a specific number, they would be entered in to get a ticket to a fan appreciation party and then go to a screening of the film tonight.

Noxon says that the viewers will learn a bit more about Jerry’s history than we did in the original, but Gillespie adds that Jerry is a predator and you don’t want to give away too much.

All in all, I’m still not sure what to expect from the film but I’ll be trying to weasel my way into the screening tonight.  But no matter how the movie turns out, Colin Farrell made a big splash at this panel and he’ll probably be doing it again very soon with the Total Recall panel coming up within the hour.

Click here for all our Comic-Con 2011 coverage.




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