Home Film Fright Night – Craig Gillespie’s throwback to creepy vampires

Fright Night – Craig Gillespie’s throwback to creepy vampires

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Fright Night - Imogen Poots, Anton Yelchin, Director Craig Gillespie and Colin Farrell
Imogen Poots, Anton Yelchin, Director Craig Gillespie and Colin Farrell © 2011 Dreamworks

Craig Gillespie auspiciously began his feature film directing career with the critically acclaimed Lars and the Real Girl, starring Ryan Gosling.

For television, Gillespie produced and directed Showtime’s popular series United States of Tara, which earned its star, Toni Collette both an Emmy and Golden Globe Award.

His new movie, Fright Night, is a remake of the 1985 classic horror film, which spotlights Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin), who lives with his mother, Jane (Toni Collette), in a suburb of Las Vegas. It doesn’t take long for Charley to become suspicious of their new next door neighbor, the handsome and brooding, Jerry (Colin Farrell), who turns out to be a vampire – but unfortunately, Charley can’t get anyone to believe him, not even Peter Vincent (David Tennant), an illusionist in Vegas whose entire act encompasses the myths of vampire history.

Can you talk about the character of Jerry? He’s sort of a throwback to the vampires when they were creepy?

Fright Night - Director Craig Gillespie
Director Craig Gillespie gets ready for action on the set © 2011 Dreamworks

He is primal, which is apart I think of the development of the character. He needs to eat, and there’s a practicality for how he goes about things. It almost started to be like a serial killer in terms of how he would keep his victims alive, and I love the greedy realism of that. We haven’t seen that take on a vampire.

Is there a danger of psychologically overthinking this genre, as it’s supposed to be a horror movie that’s supposed to scare us?

Yeah, primarily this is a fun ride and what I gravitated towards with the script when I read it, because I wasn’t looking to do a vampire film. My head was in another place and I very reluctantly picked it up, but Marti (Noxon) had written this script that had the horror and the thriller aspect, but it was [filled] with comedy.

They went back to that eighties genre with American Werewolf in London, even Nightmare on Elm Street where Freddy Krueger just had so much fun as a villain, and the original Fright Night, and that’s kind of the movie that I loved as a kid.

It’s a fun ride as opposed to being scared the whole time. You get this release. And that’s what I was going for. I hadn’t seen that tone for a while. They did it in Scream, but outside of Scream it’s been pretty absent in horror films.

I think whatever the genre of the film you’re doing, you’ve got to have a certain commitment to it. The actors do and they have to do their homework. Like a lot of the stuff that Colin came up with, in terms of the quirks of the physicality of it, is from just figuring out his back-story, and it makes it much more enjoyable to watch.

There’s this freshness, or this interesting take on what’s going on, and there’s a lot of psychology, how he gets worked up to bite somebody and the primal aspect of it and the lack of fear and how that motivates him.

Can you talk about shooting this in 3D?

Shooting in 3D came up very early in the process. I thought, ‘Wow, you’ve got these epic movies going on with Avatar and Alice in Wonderland which are amazing in 3D, but I couldn’t think of a film where you’ve got two guys talking in a kitchen in 3D.

It is the horror genre and I thought to be feeling like you’re in that kitchen with him and you can look  around their shoulder, or going down the corridor through a doorway, in 3D really could  amplify the scares and make you feel like you’re in that space.

And then also with 3D, it makes you have to slow down. It goes almost oddly back to classic filmmaking because you can’t be too [frenetic], you can’t be hand-held. So you get to do these very big slow moves. It’s always good to have the camera moving so you feel the 3D of it.

The actors get to really walk and block and have interaction with each other and you get to watch it in an old style way. I like that classic aspect of it. Being at Comic-Con was great. This is a fan movie and to be able to show it to the fans out of the gate, it’s a little nerve-wracking.

Why do you think that is? You can remake Hamlet as many times as you want and nobody screams about it?

Fright Night - David Tennant
Las Vegas illusionist and self-proclaimed vampire expert Peter Vincent (David Tennant) finds his skills put to the test for the first time © 2011 Dreamworks

I think that particularly in the horror genre the fans are really passionate.

Can you talk about casting David Tennant as Peter Vincent in this?

We were really excited to get David Tennant for that role. He hasn’t done a lot of work in the States and this is such a great platform for him. He has excellent comic timing and also comes from the dramatic arena.

Do you have any final thoughts on the movie?

This Fright Night is a great addition to the canon of vampire films. Some of the scenes are going to be hard to watch, in the best possible sense, but there are also some very warm, sincere moments, as well as just flat-out humor.