Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Fright Night 2: New Blood - review

Director: Eduardo Rodriguez

Release date: 2013

Contains spoilers

The original Fright Night is a classic film. Three years after its release a sequel was made, that featured a female vampire, sister to the original vampire, and it too was a good film – not quite up to the standards of the original but worthy nonetheless.

Cut forward to 2011 and the original film was remade and, to be honest, I rather liked it. I liked what they did with the characters, how they changed onus and made a film honest to the original but with its own sense of style. Two years on and we get a sequel…

monster hunt show
Except we don’t. This is not a sequel, it is a reimagining, a remake even, of the first film(s). There are differences. Peter Vincent (Sean Power) was a horror movie host in the original, then a stage magician. In this he hosts a “reality” monster hunt show called Fright Night and hangs around strip joints went not filming. Probably the biggest change is with the vampire, Gerri Dandridge (Jaime Murray, the Deaths of Ian Stone) has changed gender and, more importantly, Dandridge is not her real name… no she is actually Erzsébet Báthory – yes the Bathory myth has been tied in.

Charlie and Ed
The other main change is location, with the action moving to Romania and Charlie (Will Payne), “Evil” Ed (Chris Waller) and Amy (Sacha Parkinson) are students just arrived in Romania (for some sort of college trip). At the head of the film Amy and Charlie have split up after he was caught kissing another girl.

Amy, with a convoluted lineage
One main thing that has changed is the reason for Dandridge going after Amy (in the original he had a portrait of her, why was not explained but was probably the reincarnated love trope). In this a taste of Amy's blood is enough to tell Dandridge that Amy is a virgin born at the stroke of midnight on the night of a blood moon. This means her blood can “free” the vampire – make her a daywalker – but necessitates Amy killing her love (Charlie)... phew... well that wasn't convoluted, much.

smoking before the cross
Will I go through the film… no, beyond the listed changes it’s pretty much the same story. Vampire lore we get is that holy items burn (Dandridge holds a bible and it looks like nothing has happened but it is self-control and an illusion and, as she leaves the room, she shows Charlie her burnt hand). Before a large crucifix she starts to smoke and Vincent burns a vampirised Ed with a tattoo of a cross - as you can see the faith aspect has been dropped like a stone. Sunlight is deadly to vampires, they have echolocation and can take on a “manbat” form. A bite turns (quickly). Dandridge ages to an old woman between feeds/baths and when she has bathed in blood she absorbs said blood through her skin.

taxi set piece
The film itself has some lovely vampire moments – a flipped taxi ala Night Watch worked very well and Dandridge’s shadow slitting the throat of a mesmerised victim was neatly done. However it is within the characters this falls flat on its face. The script relies on us knowing the characters from previous incarnations and they are subsequently drawn paper thin. The reactions of Peter Vincent worked well in the first film because of scripting and an excellent performance by Roddy McDowall, the motivations changed but were expressed well again in the remake. In this the characterisation is non-existent so, with Vincent, there is no logic to him riding to the rescue at the end of the film except that his previous incarnations also did so. Jaime Murray is a joy to watch but even her character (the best drawn of them all due to an e-comic book sequence) had no real depth.

blood soaked
That is the shame. The film is competent but severely under-resourced character wise. Anyone watching it cold (without having seen the first versions) may be wondering why the characters are so flimsy. As such I am knocking this down to 5 out of 10, but not going lower as the performances are competent with what they have and the vampire set pieces are fun.

The imdb page is here.


Laura L. Enright said...

I really wish they would have just made a sequel to the Fright Night Remake. I really enjoyed that (I actually wasn't a fan of the original Fright Night). There was such a set up for a sequel. Would have been nice to see Charlie and Peter Vincent maybe hunting down some other vampires.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

That certainly would have been a better way to go with it Laura :)