Fright Night - the recent remake of the 1985 thriller- has quite a few merits: a star-studded cast with David Tennant, Colin Farrell, and Anton Yelchin; a good sense of humor, and a rather decent plot for a horror movie. Its greatest strength, however, is its use of the figure of the vampire.
We're all a little too used to the sparkly, sensitive vampire who is redeemed by his love for an innocent woman. He's gone from being a mysterious, meaningful figure to another angsty teenager. But before Twilight, the vampire was a metaphor for our deepest fears. Dracula was an aristocrat, an outsider, and also a male who threatened the virginal purity of the book's female protagonists. And in Fright Night, Jerry, the vampire next door, is terrifying - and that's what makes the movie meaningful.
Fright Night begins with a TV advertisement for "vampire slayer" Peter Vincent's show Fright Night. It features just about the most stereotyped view of vampires possible, including the usual Gothic costumes and virginal maidens. Juxtaposed with that is the normal suburban life: the protagonist, Charley, going to school, his inevitable teenage worries and high school drama. And in the midst of that everyday reality, there's Jerry. He doesn't have a gloomy castle in the mountains; he's the normal - and even quite approachable - guy next door. Played by Colin Farrell to perfection, his suave, smooth demeanor is made absolutely terrifying by the knowledge that he's hiding his fangs - and his mercilessness.
Jerry has no redemptive features, no soft side. He is evil. And, as such, he shows the fears we hold in our complacent suburban lifestyles. What if the nice man next door is really a monster? Not an actual vampire, that is, but a murderer, a rapist, a sexual predator?