Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fright Night 2: New Blood

Everybody has heard of the original Fright Night, right? You know, the one where the awkward high school kid discovers that his new neighbor is a vampire? It’s a classic! I’m sure most of you also know of its lesser sequel and the decent remake that was released a couple of summers back. Well, now there’s a sequel to the remake… sort of.

Fright Night 2: New Blood is actually a reboot of the reboot. Confused? So was I.
High School students Charley Brewster (Will Payne), his best friend “Evil” Ed (Chris Waller) and ex-girlfriend Amy (Sacha Parkinson) are part of a foreign exchange program to study abroad in Romania. Once there Charley discovers that one of his teachers, the beautiful Gerri Dandridge (Jaime Murray), is a vampire who has set her sights on Amy and her unique blood type.

Like I said before, this is a remake of the remake. All the characters that died in the 2011 Fright Night are back again and the basic plot has been reimagined and rewritten in various ways. Instead of Jerry being a male vampire the character has been switched to a woman, which is oddly reminiscent of the original film’s sequel. Peter Vincent doesn’t host a Svengoolie/Elvira style television show (or is a Vegas illusionist), he’s now the coked up host of a Destination: Truth type of reality series where he searches the globe for the supernatural. “Evil” Ed isn’t an outcast, he’s just a big fan of online horror comics. Charley and Amy have already had a relationship and have broken up. Instead of Charley being an awkward teen he’s all emo (and his hairstyle is ridiculous). And lastly, Romania has been substituted for the ‘burbs.
I’m all for a new spin on things, but this film was just completely unnecessary in every way.

For starters it just reeks of a cheap cash in on the franchise’s name. It also comes off as a total rush job to meet a pre-Halloween release date. That actors are all uniformly terrible, the script is lame, lazy and filled with some of the dumbest shit I’ve ever seen (vampire screams). Needless to say I did not enjoy the time I wasted watching this flick.
It’s sad because I really like actress Jaime Murray. I thought she was fantastic in the second season of Dexter as well as the mini-series Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. Unfortunately in this tripe she is not sexy, she’s definitely not scary and is pretty much miscast as the villain, as is the rest of the cast. All she really does is suck on her cheeks and hiss a lot. The less said about the “teenage” actors the better. Will Payne, Chris Waller and Sacha Parkinson have zero chemistry together, look way too old to be playing high schoolers, act like they are in a park district play and are given some horrible, horrible dialogue. The worst of the bunch is Sean Power as Peter Vincent. The character is barely in the movie to begin with, but Power acts like he wants to be somewhere else. He vomits out his dialogue in the hammiest way possible and his character isn’t even remotely likable. Roddy McDowell is turning over in his grave.

Writer Matt Venne, whose scripting career mainly consists of crappy direct-to-video sequels to horror movies (White Noise 2: The Light, Mirrors 2 and the upcoming Leprechaun: Origins), just took the scripts for the first Fright Night and its remake and tweaked the aforementioned details. You’d think someone writing the new film in a venerable franchise such as this would want to put his mark on it in some creative way, but no, Venne lazily allows the film to play out in the exact same way the others did. It’s ultra-predictable and kind of insulting to me since I’m a HUGE fan of the original.
Director Eduardo Rodriguez does show a little flair in his visual style, but he needs to focus more on making sure he has a decent script to work from and that his cast is right for their roles. He does get the gory goods right and fills the screen with plenty of the red stuff to satiate the die-hard horror fans (loved that exploding stomach bit). Unfortunately there’s only so much you can do when the material you are working from is garbage. While I was watching the film it felt like Rodriguez was even confused by the remake of a remake nature of the piece. He gets the mood right, but the editing of some of the bigger scenes left a lot to be desired.

For example - when Charley sees Gerri jump out of her window with a dead body over her shoulder it is cut so confusingly that I had no idea that what was going was actually going on. We get a shot of the window, then a shot of Charley watching followed by a loud whooshing sound and the next shot is of this black mass falling along the side of the building. We never see Gerri in the window or jumping. Just empty window then something is already falling. And what’s worse is that this is all happening on a well-lit street while people are around! Someone jumps from a fifth floor window and walks the streets with a dead body slung over their shoulder and no one notices?! Whatevs.
Another example is the big finale. The (anti)climactic CGI shot is ruined by a post-production added strobe effect that not only made it hard to see what was happening, but gave me a headache too. I’m assuming the effect itself was pretty bad and this was a last ditch effort to cover it up. And don’t even get me started on what Gerri looks like in her final vampire form. Yikes! That’s some shitty make-up work.

If there really is a fan base out there to see this film I’m thinking that it shouldn’t have been made in this form. A direct sequel to the remake would have been fine, and since the set-up for this film so closely matches that of the original Fright Night, Part II (sans “Evil” Ed and Amy) I am assuming that was the plan from the start. Somewhere along the lines someone thought rebooting the reboot was a good idea. Sorry, it wasn’t. It was the worst decision you could have made. I would have at least left the “2” off the title and just called it Fright Night: New Blood, New Blood or “nothing” since this shit should have never been made.

1 out of 5

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