Being a teenager living in the suburbs is bad enough without having to worry about your neighbor being a serial killer. Unfortunately for Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin), he wishes he only had Jeffrey Dahmer to deal with instead of new neighbor Jerry. Don't let the name fool you--the completely non-threatening name is but a distraction from the fact that the guy who just moved in next door lures people into his home, stashes them in a kidnapping closet, then feeds on their blood occasionally until he completely drains them. Perhaps the worst part is during all that, they cannot distract themselves from his dreamy eyes and nice pecs. Yes, I believe Colin Farrell is the perfect choice for this particular vampire. And it turns out, he is one of many solid choices the filmmakers made in casting this remake.
Remakes need to be like cover songs in order to succeed: You have to breathe new life into it and make it worth paying attention to again. Most of the time, Hollywood misses the mark by rehashing much-loved material and adding the wrong kinds of new touches to make it "fresh" and "new." Hey, Hollywood: Giving every character a cell phone does not make people automatically want to see The Stepfather again. Anyway, I was really pleased with this movie, because despite being a big fan of the original, I thought this one had stronger characters, new story beats, entertaining jokes, and more svelte actors in leather pants to make it worth watching. The 3D is pretty pointless though, so spend that extra money on the popcorn you're going to need to stress-eat. This thing gets intense.
Farrell is a very different Jerry from Chris Sarandon, who coolly paraded around the 1985 film, acting more like a well-dressed gigolo in a Sears catalog than a vampire. At one point in the original, he flips out in Charley's bedroom, but still remains relatively passive, even when Charley and his vampire hunter mentor Peter Vincent (Roddy MacDowell) invade his house. Kiss those days goodbye, because Colin Farrell is taking it to the streets. He adds a real terror to the movie that made me quake in my boots--I have never been so afraid of someone's olfactory senses. The way this guy sniffs the air made me want to run and hide. Add in the fact that Jerry is now handy with flammable gases and a stick-shift SUV, and you have a real rip-roarin' battle on your hands. This Jerry the vampire gets what he wants, whether it's the company of a blonde bartender, or the obliteration of an entire New Mexico subdivision.
This new, sharper take on the characters happens across the board and is one thing that keeps it engaging. David Tennant plays the much-improved Peter Vincent, this time being a Criss Angel-like magician who, underneath the wig and fanfare, takes a believable and interesting turn as a man who needs to reclaim his masculinity, stake some vamps, and help a brother out. Christopher Mintz-Plasse manages to be way less annoying and twitchy than the old version of Ed, Charley’s nerdy pal, and he and Yelchin have great chemistry together. Unfortunately the female characters are just as pointless as before, with Charley's girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots) still just being a helpless pawn. Luckily Toni Collete fares a little better in this regard, although not much. None of that was enough to ruin the movie for me, because I went to see Colin Farrell with his mouth open and fangs bared, not to celebrate my ovaries.
I think the movie will catch flak from fans of the original that are not willing to see this one for what it is, which is an amped-up, more sophisticated version of a charming but kind of dopey older film. I am, however, officially done with vampire flicks. Can we just leave it alone now, please? Or will I be forced to keep feeding these studio blood suckers?