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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Fright Night 2: New Blood

October 10th, 2013

Fright Night 2: New Blood - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack

I reviewed the 2011 remake version of Fright Night and while I didn't like it as much as the average critic, it was clearly better than its box office numbers would indicate. I am a little surprised that the film is earning a sequel, even a direct-to-DVD sequel. Is this film worth checking out for fans of the original movie? Or is it a sequel in name only and just a cheap cash grab?

The Movie

The film starts out at night at a gas station where a woman is filling up her car. When she hears a strange growling noise, she heads into her car while she waits for her car to be filled up. As you would expect, given the genre, she is attacked by a vampire. She manages to get away, temporarily, but is quickly captured and killed.

After that prologue, we meet our main cast: Amy Peterson (Sacha Parkinson); Charley Brewster (Will Payne); and 'Evil' Ed Bates (Chris Waller). The three of them are high school students in Romania for an exchange program. Amy and Charley used to be dating, but they are having troubles after rumors started that Charley cheated on Amy. Evil Ed has an idea to get Charley's mind off of his relationship woes. They can go on the Bloodsucker Blues Tour, a tour of all of the local castles that are rumored to be the lairs of real vampires. While checking into his room, Charley sees two women making out in a room across the street, a redhead and a brunette. At first Charley's quite bemused by the whole thing, especially when the brunette spots him but doesn't react. Then, he sees blood running down the redhead's back, he calls to Ed to come see it, but Ed gets there too late. Their teacher tells them to head to the lobby, because their first class is that night. However, Ed is more intested in Fright Night, a Reality TV show about paranormal investigator, Peter Vincent (Sean Power). He's especially excited, as Peter Vincent is currently in Romania filming an episode.

We then cut to Peter Vincent filming an episode of Fright Night in the castle that is supposedly home to Dracula. However, like all such shows, it is mostly TV and very little reality.

When Charley and Ed get to the class and see their professor for the first time, it's Gerri Dandrige, an expert in European art. She is also the brunette that Charley saw in the hotel room across the street. Not only does Charley recognize her, she seems to recognize him.

Later while on the Bloodsucker Blues Tour, Charley decides to duck out early, because he's feeling tired. On the way back to the hotel room, he sees Gerri Dandrige making out with one of the students. When she sees Charley, he ducks behind a wall to hide, but when he looks again, both his teacher and the student are gone. He tries looking for them, but all he gets is a jump scare when Ed finds him.

The next day, Charley learns that one of the students, the student he saw with Gerri Dandrige, is missing. He then sees her leap from the hotel window carrying something that looks like a body. After she puts the body in her car and drives off, Charley decides to investigate on his own, because he's obviously never seen a horror movie in his life. He climbs into her hotel window and finds, among other things, a bathtub full of blood. Unfortunately, he spends so much time looking that Gerri returns and he's trapped.

Obviously he gets away. You can't have your lead character die in the first 30 minutes. But what happens from now on is entering spoiler territory.

Like I mentioned, I reviewed the previous incarnation of Fright Night and I didn't like it as much as most critics did. However, it is much better than this film. First of all, while the film is called Fright Night 2, is it more of a remake than a sequel. Many of the characters in the movie share names with those in the 2011 remake, but there are very few connections between them. Both movies are vampire movies, while the characters are similar it archetypes, but that's as close as it gets in terms of continuity between the two films. Worse still, it shares some of the weakness of its direct predecessor. There are serious pacing issues in this movie and none of the characters are all that compelling. At least last time, we had David Tennant, Colin Farrell and others to give life to lifeless characters. Jamie Murray is good as the antagonist, but the rest of the acting isn't up to par and range from good (Sacha Parkinson); to dull (Will Payne and Sean Power); to irritating (Chris Waller). Then again, the writing has some serious issues as well, so you can't really blame the actors. There are some good moments of suspense and they use the Romanian locations well, but that's not enough to recommend the movie.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD, but the Blu-ray does have a few extras, starting with an audio commentary track. There are also four webisodes with Sean Power in character as Peter Vincent, and a six-minute featurette on the mythology of vampires. That's not enough to be a selling point.

The technical presentation is okay for a direct-to-DVD release. The detail and colors are strong, when there's enough light. But a lot of scenes take place at night, and these have less details. The audio is loud, with a bass thumping whenever there is supposed to be a scare, and there are some good dynamic effects here and there, but it's nothing special.

The Blu-ray costs $3 or 20% more than the DVD, which is a great deal for this type of release.

The Verdict

Fright Night 2: New Blood is typical of many direct-to-DVD sequels. It is more of a remake than a true sequel and if you liked the characters from Fright Night, there's no reason to watch this one. This one isn't as bad as some direct-to-DVD horror films I've seen, but that's not a reason to recommend it. If you are interested in buying, skip the DVD and pick up the Blu-ray Combo Pack instead.

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Filed under: Video Review, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Jamie Murray