Well, that's a first. Fright Night 2: New Blood isn't a sequel to a remake, and no, it's not a remake of a sequel either. It's basically a direct-to-video reimagining of the Fright Night mythos,
complete with a brand new Charley, a shiny new Evil Ed, another TV phoney named Peter Vincent, and even a vamp next door named
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This time around, an immortal bloodsucker isn't swooping into the suburbs; Charley and company are setting up shop in a vampire's stomping grounds. Charley (Will Payne), his newly-minted ex Amy (Sacha Parkinson), and way-hetero lifemate Evil Ed (Chris Waller) have just rolled into Romania as part of some European art history program or whatever. They're supposed to listen to lectures and all that, but a big part of this trip is an opportunity to take in the sights. That's exactly what Charley does his first night there, peeking out his hotel room window and ogling at a couple of lingerie model-types as they start slathering their tongues all over each other. Before he can say "Dear Penthouse Forum, I never thought this could happen to me", one of the women has blood streaming down her neck.
This impossibly gorgeous, ice cold killer (Jaime Murray) all of a sudden has a new plaything to bat around. Charley sees her everywhere. It's generally in some shadowy corner with blood caked around her lips and a lifeless body by her side. Sometimes, it's...well, at the university where she's taken the name Gerri Dandridge and lectures about art. 'Course, you might know her better as Elizabeth Bathory. Gerri's immortal and all that, but she needs to bathe in the blood of virgins as part of her regular skin care regimen. If she's really lucky, maybe she'll stumble upon that one, special, unspoiled girl who was born at the stroke of midnight under the light of the blood moon. That won't completely break the curse, but it'll let a fully-vamped Gerri strut around in broad daylight. Centuries of relentless searching hasn't turned up much of anything, but, oh, wait, one's practically been gift-wrapped and delivered right to her doorstep. Anyway, the cops aren't a whole lot of help, so Charley and Evil Ed turn to a guy who knows all about stuff that goes bump in the night: basic cable monster hunter-slash-reality show host Peter Vincent (Sean Power). I could keep going, but the broad strokes are pretty much the same as the other Fright Night flicks, so you already know where I'm going with this.
On one hand, yeah, Fright Night 2: New Blood is product. This is a movie with no real reason to exist other than Fox getting their hands on a recognizable title and thinking they could build a direct-to-video franchise out of it, the same sort of thing they've done with the Wrong Turn series. Unlike Fox's increasingly unwatchable parade of psycho hillbilly flicks, New Blood really isn't
half-bad. The cast is pretty solid across the board. They're not perfect -- there's not a whole lot of chemistry between Charley and Amy, Chris Waller can be nails-on-chalkboard as his obnoxious, overcaffeinated Evil Ed, and this barely-there Peter Vincent lacks the memorable theatricality from the other movies -- but still manage to hold their own. Jaime Murray makes for the most inspired bit of casting, crafting some effectively creepy moments with her undead bloodsucker.
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It's a more polished production than the last couple of slapdash Wrong Turn cheapquels. Sure, sure, the seams show at times, such as the overly foam rubber creature at the end and the exploding gas pump that's a quarter-mile from the service station. Still, a whole bunch of the red stuff is sloshed around, the gore can be pretty ambitious at times, and New Blood seizes hold of its Romanian backdrop to craft a sense of atmosphere it never could have afforded on these shores. Director Eduardo Rodriguez finds some unconventional angles and perspectives to keep things visually interesting. New Blood breezes along at a decent clip too, and even though I knew most of the story beats chapter and verse beforehand, I can honestly say that I was never bored. The dialogue by direct-to-video-sequel mainstay Matt Venne (Mirrors 2; White Noise 2) creaks and groans, especially as he tries way too hard to make Evil Ed sound edgy, but it's bearable. New Blood goes for sort of a spookhouse feel, more interested in jump scares than anything else, and a couple of those connect. It can get vicious at times, and there are stakes here, both figuratively and way-literally. The general lack of surprises throughout the bulk of the movie makes way for a batshit insane climax that I don't...completely understand but had a blast with anyway.
Fright Night 2: New Blood is a whole lot better than it really needed to be, but it's still just too okay to really recommend. It's a decent timekiller -- the sort of thing I'd watch on Netflix or
DVR off OuterMax or something -- but there's nothing about this remake-masquerading-as-a-sequel to make me wanna shell out twenty bucks to own it forever and ever, amen. Rent It.
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I'm not exactly a card-carrying fan of the look of Fright Night 2: New Blood. Though shot with the same RED cameras that just about every horror flick uses anymore, New Blood has a distractingly digital appearance that prevents it from every looking too cinematic. I warmed up to that aesthetic as the movie breezed along, but I had kind of a tough time with that early on. If you look past that sort of nitpicking, the presentation on this Blu-ray disc is right where it oughtta be. The digital photography is sharp, colorful, and overflowing with fine detail. Contrast is meaty, backed by substantial black levels, something I'm glad to say about a RED-lensed flick. There's no excessive filtering, no artificial sharpening, and no glaring hiccups in the AVC encode to get in the way. The general look of the movie may not be my thing, but I don't have a whole lot to complain about the authoring end of this presentation.
Fright Night 2: New Blood is dished out on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. An anamorphic widescreen DVD is along for the ride, but don't get too excited 'cause it's compromised. I'll get into all that in a minute, though.
Okay, maybe Fright Night 2: New Blood doesn't look cinematic, but it comes close enough to sounding the part. Its six-channel, 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is pretty terrific all around. Dialogue is balanced cleanly and clearly throughout, and the lower frequencies are often snarling with ferocity. Most memorably, though, New Blood really gets a death grip on the surround channels: exploding innards, Cujo-style stalking outside a hopelessly isolated car, some of these bloodsuckers' sonic screams, the flap of off-screen vampiric wings, and even more mundane stuff like ticking clocks and reverb in the lecture hall. Nicely done.
No dubs this time around. Subtitles are served up in English (SDH), French, and Spanish.
- Audio Commentary: Director Eduardo Rodriguez is joined by producers Alison Rosenzweig and Michael Gaeta for New Blood's commentary track, and it's a decent listen. Lotsa chatter about shooting in historic Romanian locations, tons of insight into the effects work...that sort of thing. Rodriguez does touch on the mindset behind pressing the reset button as he has here, although he still views
New Blood as a sequel rather than a remake. The three of them are more impressed by the screenplay -- with a first draft hammered out in a week, incidentally -- than I am, and there's applause from everyone involved when the line "welcome to Fright Night for real, bitch" is uttered, which is just...I can't relate. I did learn a lot, though, such as the need for extradepartmental blood wrangling as well as which teams make fake poop and which teams make fake pee. Kinda like the movie itself, this commentary is pleasant but kinda forgettable.
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- Fright Night Webisodes (12 min.; HD): A totally in-character Peter Vincent skulks around a couple Romanian castles in search of Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory. Y'know, Fright Night the TV show.
- Dracula Revealed (6 min.; HD): Instead going through the usual making-of paces, New Blood's lone featurette takes a very brief look at Bram Stoker's less obvious inspirations for Dracula, the life and legacy of Elizabeth Bathory, and what makes a female vamp unique.
Fright Night 2: New Blood is a combo pack, and...well, this is kind of interesting. The Blu-ray disc I'm reviewing here is unrated, and the accompanying DVD and digital copy are both rated R. That makes the other copies extra-pointless!
The Final Word
I don't have anything all that snarky or sarcastic to say about Fright Night 2: New Blood. It's a completely unnecessary but competent neck-muncher...nothing that'll redefine the face of horror or whatever but better than a direct-to-video more-remake-than-sequel really has to be. This is a decent enough timekiller leading up to Halloween, but since I don't really see myself giving New Blood another spin anytime soon, my vote would be to Rent It.