I have tried very hard to remain positive about the impending remake of Fright Night. I really like the original, but it’s no holy text; while I don’t really understand what’s to be gained by returning to that well, I also don’t see what’s the harm. Maybe you could even have some fun with it.
But now the latest casting news has stopped me in my tracks and convinced me this movie is mostly going to be a waste of time. And that’s saying something, since I pretty much rolled with the reveal that the Peter Vincent character had been changed from aging horror host to young Criss Angel-esque magician, but this latest stuff is too much for me.
David Tennant is playing the Criss Angel character, and frankly who cares. I’m sure there are people who are very enamored of Dr. Who who will be ecstatic, but to me he’s just the guy who I keep thinking is the dude from Pet Shop Boys. No, the casting that has pushed me over the edge into downright negativity is Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Evil Ed.
Look, I know that the internet is full of armchair casting directors. I know that I don’t really know Craig Gillespie’s vision for this remake (if there is one) is. Maybe I’ll understand this casting in context. But to me it proves that this film utterly misses the glory of Evil Ed.
Stephen Geoffreys didn’t play Evil Ed as just another geek; there’s something weirder and darker and maybe more pervy to him. And that’s not taking his gay porn future into account; I think that there’s a connection between Evil Ed and the chronic masturbator that Geoffreys played in the underseen classic Heaven Help Us (also a 1985 film, like Fright Night). Geoffreys brings the same sweaty, twisted sexuality to Evil Ed.
Mintz-Plasse doesn’t have that. There’s no danger to him; even at the end of Kick-Ass he’s sort of goofy. What made Evil Ed an iconic character is that he didn’t conform to standard nerd tropes, and that he’s edgier and more manic than what has become the nerd stereotype these days. His casting in this film makes me think they’re leaning more towards making Evil Ed harmless (and that’s only aided by the PG-13 they’re going for), while the original Evil Ed felt like maybe getting bit by Jerry was the greatest thing that ever happened to him. And not just because it was a nerd power fantasy but because it allowed him to open up something darker inside of himself.
Again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe writer Marti Noxon has a firm grasp on Evil Ed. It’s just hard to see one of the more unique characters in horror history getting on the path for what is essentially gentrification – they’re softening him up to make him more lovable to the norms.
I’d love to be wrong about this one, but so far nothing is showing me that Fright Night 21st Century edition will be worth sitting through.