Digging back into the movie archives, director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, Mr. Woodcock) sinks his teeth into this tale of an awkward teen (Anton Yelchin) who comes to realize that his new next-door neighbor (Colin Farrell) might be a vampire intent on building a coven in his town if the teen fails to stop him (with reluctant help from a Las Vegas occult specialist played by Andy Tennant).
In the 1985 original (that spawned a sequel in 1989), the teenage hero Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) hooks up with a funny horror television serial host (Roddy McDowall) and they bumble their way through the discovery of a vampire coven (led by Chris Sarandon) and find the fortitude to destroy it.
There is nothing humorous about the heroics in the update, and the violence/gore quotient rises significantly.
Gillespie, not known as a hardcore action guy, unleashes his inner bad boy, seeking to beat us into submission rather than taking a slow-burn approach through suspense. We know right off the bat that Farrell is the big daddy vamp, which means he never really gets to charm the pants off of us or our teen hero’s mom (Toni Collette looking up to the challenge of having him slip past her defenses).
And Yelchin, a subtle and empathetic young actor who is forced into action too soon, looks like he’s still running around the set of Terminator Salvation as the young Kyle Reese instead of making this new Charley Brewster his own man in his own terrifying time. Grade: D-
Opens wide Aug. 19.