IN a world where the days of nipping next door to borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbour is about as likely as winning big on a scratch card, the arrival of a new neighbour usually goes unnoticed.
This remake of 1985 horror-comedy Fright Night just goes to show that paying attention to who’s living next door is actually a wise move, especially when they turn out to be a blood-sucking vampire.
That’s the scenario faced by Charley (Anton Yelchin) anyway, who spends the film careering through the various stages of disbelief in vampirism despite the fact that Colin Farrell’s Jerry has him in a game of cat and mouse.
The plot’s a drag, truth to be told, so it’s just as well Yelchin’s largely inoffensive.
He straddles the line between leading man and dweeby underdog, which is perfect for the character, who’s recently undergone his own metamorphosis from geeky outcast to in-crowd boyfriend material for Imogen Poots’ Amy.
Charley makes the classic dumb decisions on which horror films thrive, such as running upstairs where there are no escape routes.
He’s given amusing support by his former best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) but this film lives and dies – like its predecessor – with the villainous vampire and Peter Vincent (David Tennant), the darkside expert called in to consult on the matter.
Farrell clearly enjoys his role, abandoning the guilt-ridden persona he’s played in so many recent films for an amoral, remorseless killer who takes considerable glee in toying with weakling Charley.
With wild eye-rolling and sniffing of the air, his performance suggests that Farrell is wasted playing nice guy roles, rather than villains in films like Horrible Bosses.
Tennant, in a departure from his days inhabiting a telephone box, is sadly hampered by the script’s refusal to give him any punchline that isn’t a profanity – swearing becoming the rule rather than the exception, making him one dimensional.
As the pace builds, tension gives way to terror-attacks by the increasingly unhinged Jerry and it’s here the film falters, with truly unsettling transformations from human to vampire.
A bit of CGI gimmickry amuses but ultimately doesn’t add much in these Twilight-heavy days, though the pace is exhilarating and the finale pleasantly gory.