Directed by Eduardo Rodriguez
Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment
The remake of Fright Night sucked and not in the way that we wanted it to. Despite some interesting casting in Colin Farrell as Jerry Dandridge and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Evil Ed, the flick was a paper thin cash grab covered in a slick Hollywood sheen. Its only redeeming quality was David Tennant as Peter Vincent, and I stand firm behind that. When Fright Night 2: New Blood was announced, it was met with confusion because, well, it is home to just about the same exact storyline of both the original and the remake. So what is it? A remake of the remake? A requel? Call it whatever you want, but shockingly enough I’m calling it good.
Fright Night 2: New Blood had every conceivable thing going against it. It should have been terrible, but Curandero director Eduardo Rodriguez had other plans. Don’t get me wrong; after an insipid movie whose climax transpired on top of a mound of dirt in someone’s cellar, there really was nowhere to go but up, but Rodriguez goes above and beyond, delivering a film that’s much more faithful to the original Fright Night and its first sequel. A film that is fun, ambitious, and pretty damned creative. More on that in a bit.
In this iteration of the classic Rear Window with a vampire tale, we’re introduced to Charley Brewster (Payne), his best friend Evil Ed (Waller), and his estranged girlfriend Amy (Parkinson), a trio of high school students who travel abroad to study in Romania. Once there, they meet their professor, Gerri Dandridge (a fantastically sexy and ravenous Jaime Murray of “Dexter” fame), who turns out to be the kind of teacher who looks to keep her students after class in the most violent of ways. If you’ve seen any of the Fright Night films, you pretty much know the rest of the plot, and that’s totally fine because there’s some really interesting turns along the way that happily derail what we thought we knew was going to happen. Not going to give those away; let’s just say you’re going to be treated to some new and original vampire tropes that are bound to become a staple of the toothy subgenre. Really good, exciting, and creepy stuff that’s complemented by some very sweet homages, including a nod to the granddaddy of all vamps, Nosferatu. Kudos to Rodriguez and company for finding a way to breathe new life into a subject that breathed its last breath long ago.
There is one thing this flick gets extremely right, and that is the casting of fresh faces. Aside from the addition of Murray, the rest of the cast hasn’t done much and therefore come off free of distraction. I didn’t know them as anyone else other than Charley, Ed, and Amy. This made them feel more realistic and relatable, and the kids are really good too. Well, Waller is kind of annoying and rough around the edges as Evil but not enough to make you thoroughly dislike him, and by the end he more than finds his footing. Having good characters and dropping them into vampire country gives a great dimension to the proceedings as Romania is absolutely GORGEOUS and spooky to behold. Make no mistake; the setting of Fright Night 2: New Blood is very much a character in and of itself and serves the look and feel of the flick to a truly admirable degree.
It’s not all sunshine and roses though as Fright Night 2: New Blood is not without its problems. Thankfully they’re all pretty minor things that make you say to yourself, “Well, that’s just silly.” Apparently in the world of this flick, professors enter their classrooms with all the flair of the most gaudy WWE characters, and no matter what, no one in Romania ever sleeps. Seriously, is it commonplace over there that everyone is awake until dawn and fully clothed as if they just jumped out of the shower? Another issue is a bit more taxing, and that is Sean Power’s performance as Peter Vincent. In the original Vincent was a horror show host. In the remake he was a mad magician. Here Vincent is the host of a “Destination Truth”-like reality television show. This actually makes perfect sense given that this is an update, but the problem is Power himself. Aside from a couple of scenes, he’s easily the weak link here as he doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of charisma displayed by the Peter Vincents of days gone by. I wanted to love his character, but in the end he falls flat.
In terms of the Blu-ray, it looks and sounds fantastic with a special nod to the visual work put in by cinematographer Yaron Levy. The image is crisp, clean, colorful and razor-sharp, and the sound mix is both thumping and jarring in the best of ways. There are some neat special features to be found here as well, including a fun audio commentary with director Eduardo Rodriguez and producers Alison Rosenzweig and Michael Gaeta, a series of webisodes, and a featurette entitled Dracula Revealed. Nothing groundbreaking, but nothing to complain about either.
Fright Night 2: New Blood is gory, energetic, and fun; and right now it serves as the most pleasant surprise of 2013. It’s as if Rodriguez watched the remake, got as frustrated as we did, and just put his money where his mouth was by delivering a solid little flick that both reveres the source material and builds upon it. At no point did I ever get the impression that he was just a gun for hire, and I seriously can’t wait to see what he does next. Keep an eye on him, kids. This dude is going places.
3 1/2 out of 5
3 out of 5