Fright Night 2 New Blood Review
The Cult Horror Series Returns
It's funny because I don't think anyone who saw the original Fright Night back in 1985 would have foreseen it becoming a franchise. While, that film spawned a so-so sequel and a recent remake in 2011. The remake was a 3D splatter flick with forced humor and cheesy performances. The movie found some success and viewers took it for what it was. But, certainly no one was clamoring for more of the story. Evil was punished, where do we go from here? Well, Fright Night has returned with the sequel to the 2011 remake, Fright Night 2: New Blood.
Sequel or Remake?
Let's get this out of the way first; this film is not a direct sequel to the 2011 remake. The film doesn't even mention it, nor do you have to see that film before watching it. This movie is for all intents and purposes, another remake. I personally believe they only used the Fright Night name to get some more people to buy this direct to video movie.
Fright Night 2: New Blood follows Charley Brewster(Will Payne) and his horror loving friend 'Evil' Ed(Chris Waller) as they quickly discover a vampire named Gerri Dandridge is after them. Sound familiar? Well, the biggest difference this time around is Gerri is a woman, played by Dexter alum Jaime Murray. The opening to the film is a rather creepy gas station attack by the creature of the night. Following that, we meet Charley, Ed, and the rest of his class as they are studying in Romania for the semester. Charley soon catches glimpses of a beautiful woman seducing another woman through his hotel room window.
Once in class, Charley discovers the seductress was his new Art History teacher, Ms. Gerri Dandridge. Gerri is as sexy as she is deadly and Charley sees first hand how violent she can be after witnessing her bathing in the blood of one of her victims. Gerri is a rather cold-hearted vampire this time around and doesn't try to fit in like Colin Farrell's Jerry did in the 2011 film. Of course, no one believes Charley except for his best friend, Evil Ed. Ed immediately suggests going to TV show horror host, Peter Vincent for help.
Having Peter Vincent in this film is pretty much only so it can indeed be called Fright Night. He doesn't really do much at all. And just like in the 2011 remake, Peter runs away as soon as he discovers vampires are real. I assume you can guess the rest of the arc his character takes. Hint; it's the same as last time.
Fright Night 2 tries to tie in to the real world person of Elizabeth Bathory in a unique way. I don't want to say it's exactly clever, but it is fun. I have to give the writers credit for trying something different and giving the film a little more weight than just a typical vampire wants virgin blood story.
Fright Night For Real!
Fright Night 2: New Blood is a bit of a conundrum because aspects of it are incredible. The set pieces are beautiful. The castle in which Gerri lives is astounding. And the action is actually really well put together. The attack int he subway and sewers is tons of fun. The movie keeps your attention quite well, which is more than I can say for most direct to video films. The movie isn't exactly scary, but it has a sexy scary to it with Jaime Murray. She is the one star of the film that really stands out. She seems to embody the role of Gerri and relishes in torturing the poor young students of her class.
However, these students are the biggest downside. I don't know if it was intentional, but Will Payne and Chris Waller are both extremely annoying as Charley and Ed respectively. You just want both of these guys to shut up the moment they open their mouths. They yell and whine through most of their scenes and you wonder how these two even have other friends. Well, they really don't. Charley is still trying to win back his girlfriend, Amy, played by Sacha Parkinson. Her character is made to be important way too late in the story. It's not until the end of the 2nd Act you even realize why she's being dragged around all movie. She isn't particularly interesting and shows little interest in Charley, so why should we care?
The trade off between great editing and action mixed with beautiful set decoration, to terrible acting and poor writing isn't fair. After a while, you'll find yourself bored with the story and just hope to see everyone get killed. The most delivers and then takes away on this promise so many times you will be ripping your hair out. Next time, if you are going to kill a character; just kill a character!
Fright Night in Name Only
After all I've said, it's pretty clear this movie only took the Fright Night name to cash in. Or perhaps this is a way of seeing if the market is still hot for recognizable vampire titles. I'm not sure, but this movie didn't need the Fright Night name. Peter Vincent is useless and only serve mild comic relief. If he isn't going to actually do anything, at least make him laugh out loud funny. Much like how the 2011 film did with David Tennant and that version of Vincent.
The Elizabeth Bathory story added some to the film, but mostly in terms of pure visuals. The scenes of Jaime Murray bathing in blood aren't nearly as provocative as one would hope for and we've seen tributes to the name done much better, especially in Eli Roth's Hostel: Part 2.
Murray does her best to drive the film to being something more than fodder for a late night scare flick you forget about, but she's alone in the effort. It would be nice to her take a meatier vampire role, because she has the presence to be a wonderful creature.
Should You Feel Fright on this Night?
In closing, Fright Night 2: New Blood is worth checking out if you have any love for the series. It's not the worst of them. In fact, this film does surpass the 2011 remake in some respects. The locations and action are more fun that the remake. And certainly, the CGI is lightyears better. How does a direct to video movie have better CGI than a big budget film with Colin Farrell? Anyway, you know the story and little will shock you. The 3rd Act twists won't shock you and likely, you will see it coming a mile away. Fright Night 2: New Blood is cliched and by the numbers. But, for 88 minutes, it can be fun if you let it. Just don't expect that something to be great or game-chaging. You've seen this before, and done better. But Jaime Murray is good for at least one viewing.