By Chaz Lipp
I’m a big fan of the 2011 remake of Fright Night starring Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, and David Tennant. It bombed, despite largely positive reviews. Maybe the 1985 original with Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowell just isn’t widely known enough to have roped in curious viewers. Since it was relatively faithful to the source, maybe the remake just looked too old school for the young fans that really drive horror films at the box office. Whatever the case, it must’ve done solid business on video, because 20th Century Fox recently issued Fright Night 2: New Blood.
The character names are the same but this doesn’t continue the story of vampire slayers Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent. New Blood is another remake of the original. Unfortunately, everything that director Craig Gillespie and writer Marti Noxon got RIGHT in the ’11 remake goes WRONG in this new one. Charley (Will Payne), girlfriend Amy (Sacha Parkinson), and “Evil” Ed (Chris Waller) are studying in Romania in an exchange study program. Yes, Ed died in the last one. Again, New Blood ignores that film entirely. This time, instead of vampire Jerry Dandrige, we meet vampiress Gerri Dandrige. She’s the students’ professor. Charley figures out pretty quickly (via spying) what she’s really up to.
So again, Charley and Ed seek the help of Peter Vincent (Sean Power). Unlike the hilarious reinvention of the character in ’11 as a Vegas magician, Vincent is once again a TV horror show host. The new idea is that instead of showing old scary movies like Roddy McDowell in the original, he hosts a Ghost Hunters-style reality show. Look, if you’ve seen either the original or the ’11 remake, you know exactly where this one is headed. The only inspired twist is that Gerri turns out to be the real-life 17th century serial killer Elisabeth Bathory. We get an animated backstory filling us in about the notorious woman’s past. But other than that, everything is pretty much the same – despite the location change.
Everything looks and sounds great, with a standard issue 1080p presentation of the serviceable digital cinematography. A workmanlike DTS-HD MA 5.1 mixes gooses viewers with some nice surround effects. There’s a director and producer commentary track, a few “webisodes” that show more of Peter Vincent’s reality series, and a promo featurette called “Dracula Revealed.”
While it might satisfy the least-discerning horror fan, Fright Night 2: New Blood is competent but infuriatingly bland.