Making direct-to-home video sequels of theatrical films is one thing, but to remake the 1985 Fright Night, give it a title that infers a sequel rather than a remake (Fright Night 2: New Blood), and change all that was fun and charming about the original and go instead for sleaze and fetishism is quite another. There are some cunning ideas on this rethink of the original thriller, but much of the last half hour is muddled in its own preposterous new folklore that drags the film out to laughable lengths and a quite unsatisfying conclusion.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 40 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraVioletkeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 10/01/2013
On a European high school study program, Charley Brewster (Will Payne), his obnoxious sidekick “Evil” Ed Bates (Chris Waller), Charley’s former girl friend Amy (Sacha Parkinson), and others are intrigued by their new art history professor Gerri Dandridge (Jaime Murray). Charley stumbles into a few encounters that lead to his discovering that her real identity is Elizabeth Bathery, a legendary vampire who is likely the real inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Gerri/Elizabeth is on a quest to find a midnight-born, new moon virgin whose blood will allow her to walk in daylight, and coincidentally Amy fits the bill. Charley tries to explain to her the danger she’s facing, but she laughs off his absurd allegations. That leaves Charley and Ed with only one alternative: persuade reality host Peter Vincent (Sean Power) who is the face of a paranormal investigation program called Fright Night to lend a hand in helping to dispose of the centuries old vampire.
The Production Rating: 2/5
Matt Venne’s script borrows liberally from the characters and set-up of Tom Holland’s original Fright Night, but he changes the vampire’s gender and her sexual orientation in order to fetishize the sexual component of the seductions (Elizabeth is an equal opportunity killer, but she seems to relish the female kills more than the male ones and bathes luxuriously in their blood in one of the screenwriter’s more outrageous additions to the tale. The climactic blood pool is fed by a generously endowed inverted female statue with blood gushing from a rather unoriginal location). Director Eduardo Rodriguez also lingers hungrily on the female kills (with full frontal female nudity) and spends more than a few moments in a well-stocked strip club (where Peter Vincent loves to hang out after work hours) as the boys try to persuade him to join their cause. Rodriguez also makes sure that every cliché of the genre finds a comfy home in these surroundings: hands that flip people around at a tense moment which turn out to be nothing (accompanied by a deafening crash on the soundtrack), things like creaky doors and dripping water and lots of screeches on the soundtrack attempt to amp up the tension. One major sequence does work: Charley and Amy attempting to escape from Elizabeth’s clutches in the sewers of the Romanian city while Elizabeth’s emanating bat-like signals cause the lights to strobe in an uncomfortably lethal manner. But the ending goes on and on, is badly scripted and poorly played by the two young leads, and leaves an even more unsatisfying taste in one’s mouth than all the blood baths and sadistic murders which have gone before.
Jaime Murray has played any number of paranormal beings and psychopaths (check her out in season two of Dexter) in her career, so she seems right at home with these outrageous shenanigans in the film. Though some of the risks she takes in full view of others seem to go unnoticed by all but Charley, Murray goes along with the spotty writing and gives it her all. Will Payne does mostly good work as the student no one believes until the final confrontation scene strains even his ability to keep a straight face through all of the nonsense. Sacha Parkinson makes a much less positive impression as the girl-that-got-away Amy. Chris Waller overdoes the obnoxiousness as Ed while conversely Sean Power underplays as Peter Vincent barely raising an eyebrow while viewing some truly horrendous sights in the climactic moments.
The film has been framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Shot digitally with the RED camera, the imagery is very sharp, and the transfer features wonderful black levels (important since so much of the movie occurs at night and in dark corridors, dimly lit rooms, and in nighttime streets). Color is richly hued (all that red blood gets a little tiring after awhile). Flesh tones are generally realistic though there are some fluctuations in skin tones from shot to shot for no reason. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix accentuates its bass levels and turns up the volume with the emphatic “shock booms” that punctuate the action. Though there are some nicely placed split ambient effects, they aren’t consistently applied throughout the film. Luis Ascano’s throbbing music score gets a full reproduction through the entire soundstage. Dialogue has been well recorded and has been placed in the center channel.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Audio Commentary: director Eduardo Rodriguez and producers Alison Rosenzweig and Michael Gaeta participate though Rodriguez clearly dominates the discussion. He’s full of praise for the film (which he does not consider a remake of the original but a true sequel; his logic escapes me), cast and crew and shares memories of production in the cold locations.
Special Features Rating: 2.5/5
Fright Night Webisodes (11:31, HD): four brief webisodes of the “reality show” hosted by Peter Vincent (Sean Power in character) find the host exploring the castles of Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Bathery. The brief bits may also be viewed individually.
Dracula Revealed (6:15, HD): history professor Rebecca Johns recounts the legends of Elizabeth Bathery while director and cast discuss the making of the film and how this real-life character fit into the scenario.
Promo Trailers (HD): Carrie, Twixt, Vikings
DVD/Digital Copy/Ultraviolet: disc enclosed and instruction sheet with codes also present
If Fright Night had to be remade (and this one has nothing to do with the Colin Farrell redo of 2011) and retitled Fright Night 2: New Blood, it’s a shame that the charm and simple scares that the original offered had to be sacrificed for the grotesque, the fetishistic, and the ugly in this new made-for-home video edition. The disc does offer first-rate audio and video, however.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
Support HTF when you buy this title: