Friday, October 4, 2013

Fright Night 2: New Blood (2013)(Minor Spoilers Review)

**This review contains MINOR spoilers**

After enrolling in a student exchange program, Charley Brewster (Will Payne), “Evil” Ed Bates (Chris Waller), and Amy Peterson (Sacha Parkinson) travel to Romania to study European art. Ed is thrilled to meet his idol, Peter Vincent (Sean Power), the host of Fright Night, a paranormal reality show.

But the trio runs into some trouble, when they cross paths with their professor, Gerri Dandridge (Jaimie Murray). Living a secret life as a vampire, Gerri targets Charley after he accidentally discovers her true identity, but what’s going to happen, when Charley tries to explain the situation to Ed and Amy?

Will Payne is no William Ragsdale. Hell, I think Anton Yelchin did a better job with the Charley Brewster character in the 2011 remake. Despite a strong effort, Payne is on the bottom of the Charley Brewster totem pole in the Fright Night series for quality performances. Unlike Christopher Mintz-Plasse (who almost ruined the fucking character in the remake), I thought Chris Waller did a nice job of mimicking Stephen Geoffreys’ Evil Ed. Ed is supposed to be a whacky and eccentric horror buff, who’s kind of a dick at times, and Waller really embodied this persona. Although, the dialogue for his character was just awful (more on that later). Oh, and we see a third last name change for Ed here. In 1985 you had Ed Thompson, in 2011 we had Ed Lee, and now it’s Ed Bates. Sacha Parkinson is harmless as Amy. She’s not as good as Amanda Bearse, so as far as quality goes, I’d have to put her on the same level as Imogen Poots (can’t compare Poots’ Amy and Parkinson’s Amy, because Poots was the “hottest girl in school” as Amy. Two completely different characters).

The honor for best performance goes to Jaime Murray, and it’s not even close. Murray is fun to watch as this brutal and delightfully evil vixen. I guess you could say Murray’s Gerri is the modern version of Julie Carmen’s Regine from the original Fright Night 2. But unlike Regine, Gerri doesn’t use her good looks to play mind games with Charley. Instead, Gerri constantly torments Charley by mocking and taunting him with a “I might be a vampire, but nobody else is gonna believe you” approach. So in the end, Julie Carmen’s Regine was more of a seductress, but New Blood doesn’t rely on Jaime Murray’s sex appeal as a weapon, because Gerri is more vicious and nasty than Regine, and she’s willing to fight (remember, Regine ordered her entourage to do most of the dirty work for her in the original).

The worst performance? Sean Power’s Peter Vincent, easily. They tried to copy the blueprint used for Roddy McDowall’s Peter Vincent: the pompous and pretentious “expert,” who turns into a jumpy coward, when he runs into real vampires, but when the moment of truth comes, he mans up, and shows some courage to help save the day. David Tennant’s Peter Vincet in the remake was the star of a stage show at a hotel, and in New Blood, Power’s Peter Vincent is a famed host of a Ghost Hunters-esque reality show. McDowall set the bar, and Tennant’s portrayal of Vincent wasn’t bad, but Power is just awful. He’s not believable at all, and his performance drags the quality of this cast down a lot.

So yeah, a weak cast outside of a select few is a big problem for New Blood. With the exception of two scenes, the gory stuff in New Blood isn’t shocking or gruesome enough to pull a reaction out of you. And some of the dialogue here is cringeworthy, with Walker’s Ed receiving the worst lines (“She’s fuckin’ smokin’ hot dick face!” or “Penis breath!” a lame insult used by a thirteen year old).

What happened to the memorable moments? Fright Night ‘85 was loaded with memorable moments. You had Charley spying on Jerry for the first time, Jerry dancing with Amy at the club, Jerry turning Amy, Jerry turning Ed, the moment of Peter finding his courage, when he spots the sunrise behind Jerry, and Jerry’s demise. And in Fright Night 2 ‘88, you had the dance scene at Regine’s party with Charley and Regine. New Blood? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

My biggest  problem with New Blood? I never got the sense they were genuinely trying to pay homage to the original Fright Night films. They copied the steps from certain parts in the original Fright Night, but you don’t get the feeling you’re seeing a wink moment, or something to remind you of how great the original was. Instead, New Blood takes a half-hearted and lazy approach to try and deceive Fright Night fans into thinking they’re paying homage to the original. I mean, I guess you could count the play on words with Gerri Dandridge paying homage to Jerry Dandridge as a wink, but with no real connections to the previous films, the play on words feels like a mere coincidence.

But I guess you have to expect that from a straight-to-video horror “sequel,” because my worst fears were confirmed about halfway through the movie: they just used the Fright Night name to lure Fright Night fans to this film with the hopes of selling some DVDs and Blu-Rays, and you can’t forget about the rentals.

I appreciate the effort to give Gerri a more thorough and detailed backstory, but if you decide to pass on New Blood, you’re not missing anything special. Remove Fright Night from the title, and New Blood is just another generic straight-to-video horror flick with a lot of blood, an overall sub-par cast, some respectable gore, and some T&A (not from Murray, though. A few tease shots with Murray, but that’s about it). Going with a deserved mediocre score for this shameless cash-grab sequel, because New Blood is a mediocre film.

Rating: 3/10

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