The scariest part of this 3-D augmented, CGI-laden remake of the 1985 late-night cable staple has nothing to do with stakes-through-the-heart, decapitations, or the various elements of vampire lore deployed with a knowing grin at regular intervals. Rather, it’s a lovingly sustained dialogue sequence in which Colin Farrell’s hunky new neighbor Jerry drops by to borrow a six-pack of brewski’s from Anton Yelchin’s suspicious teenager, and casually insinuates that he’s got an eye on the kid’s uptight single mother (Toni Collette.)
A 400-year-old vampire leaving a trail of undead corpses in his wake is one thing, but nowhere near as terrifying as Colin Farrell threatening to fuck your Mom.
Stepping in for Chris Sarandon’s debauched vampire, Farrell’s clearly having a grand old time, flexing his muscles in beefcake poses whilst raising those over-sized eyebrows in wry self-amusement. Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyer might have defanged vampires into weepy emo boys, but Farrell is proudly feral—twitching, taking giant bites out of apples and somehow finding a way to chew the scenery even when he’s just kicking back with a sixer, watching Desperate Housewives.
Just good enough to make you wish it was better, director Craig Gillespie’s update shuffles around some events from Tom Holland’s perhaps slightly over-praised original, working best when it’s conflating horror mythos with adolescent sexual paranoia. Screenwriter Marti Noxon worked for several years on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and a similarly wiseacre sensibility pervades this remake.
Yelchin’s receding hairline makes him an unlikely high school student, but there’s a nifty supporting turn from Superbad’s McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) as his spurned geek buddy. Doctor Who’s David Tennant shows up playing a sly variation on Roddy McDowall’s role in the first film. (He’s like Russell Brand, except funny.)
Gillespie, who previously helmed the unfortunate Lars And The Real Girl, falls back a bit too often on computer generated special effects, and the 3-D presentation makes a muddle of Javier Aguirresarobe’s moody cinematography. There’s a fairly awesome gag when the vampires disintegrate into clouds of three-dimensional cinders, but that’s a steep price to pay for watching a movie set at night while you’re wearing sunglasses.