A purported sequel to the 2011 remake of Fright Night (3D Blu-ray review), this movie is a loose retelling set in an entirely new locale, Romania. Fright Night 2: New Blood is not a true sequel, but a reimagining of the franchise using a new cast. In some ways, Fright Night 2 actually works better than the Fright Night remake, though it largely adheres to a similar formula using the franchise’s well-known characters. Twentieth Century Fox is using the franchise’s brand to help sell a mostly unrelated vampire movie featuring one of the original inspirations for the vampire myth.
Diehard fans of the franchise might get upset this “sequel” takes familiar characters and uses an entirely unfamiliar British cast, but simply consider it another take on Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent. It is a sexy, thrilling ride as Charley and his friends confront the vampiric forces of darkness. Those looking for their vampires to sparkle in the sunlight probably should not bother with Fright Night 2: New Blood. This movie is a bloody, intense journey mixed with with hints of raw eroticism.
The main gist of the original Fright Night is vaguely found in Fright Night 2. Charley Brewster (Will Payne) still has his horror-obsessed friend in ‘Evil’ Ed (Chris Waller) and the girl he pines after, Amy Peterson (Sacha Parkinson). This time they are taking an exchange program for a couple of weeks in Romania, historical home of Vlad the Impaler, one of the original inspirations for Dracula. The students are taking a class in European art history taught by a charismatic professor, Gerri Dandridge (Jaime Murray). Almost immediately, it becomes apparent that Gerri Dandridge is much more than she appears on the surface, as Charley starts seeing her in visions and his dreams. Murray is perfectly cast in the role, mostly known in the States for her role on SyFy’s Defiance. Her preternatural beauty haunts Charley and he begins to investigate the professor.
Without divulging spoilers (as it it revealed early in the film), Dandridge is the vampire Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Bathory was a real historical figure, a cruel woman who thought bathing in young maidens’ blood would keep her looking eternally young. Fright Night 2 is not the first vampire tale to postulate that Bathory was a vampire; it is popular in the genre. Probably the weakest point in Fright Night 2 is the brief and hurried background provided for Bathory, told in a somewhat cheap-looking motion comic that runs a few minutes. It is the one misstep in an otherwise taut, flowing script.
Charley and Ed realize Dandridge is a vampire after Charley watches a horrific ritual involving a young woman getting exsanguinated. This is when they seek the help of Peter Vincent (Sean Power), host to a cheesy reality show about the paranormal and monsters in the vein of “Ghost Hunters.” Peter scoffs at the kids’ foolishness until Ed decides to pay him for his services. The last two acts of the movie then move at an unrelenting pace, as the trio confront Bathory. The action eventually involves Amy and her growing closeness to Charley, as she becomes critical to the vampire’s plans.
Director Eduardo Rodriguez’ creative direction and the logical script provides a refreshing twist on the familiar vampire mythology. The vamps in Fright Night 2 are born of classic European lore, unable to tolerate sunlight and cowering at the mere sight of a crucifix. Fright Night 2 makes them dangerously sexy, though it is merely a façade meant to lure in unsuspecting victims.
Shooting on location in Romania at Vlad the Impaler’s actual castle adds a huge amount of authenticity and atmosphere to the film. Fright Night 2:New Blood has production values which exceed most current horror films, particularly R-rated examples. The VFX and gory make-up work quite well for the most part, aside from a few questionable shots. Though the cast is mostly unknown in the States, the British actors have impeccable American accents and perform their roles well. Until I watched the supplemental features, I was unaware that any of the cast weren’t Americans by birth. The Blu-ray presents the unrated cut of the film, which in this case actually looks to be necessary. There is one particularly gruesome scene of a hanging, nude woman that I don’t think would have earned an R rating.
Don’t go into Fright Night 2: New Blood expecting a continuation of the story found in 2011’s Fright Night. It is simply a good tale about classic vampires using the franchise’s name to gain attention. In the mold of Siskel and Ebert, two stakes up from this long-time fan.
Fright Night 2: New Blood has a strong, crisp Hi-Def presentation, courtesy of some interesting cinematography. The digitally-shot movie looks far better than most productions made in Eastern Europe, a popular locale for its relative cheapness in filming horror movies. Its production values are indistinguishable from bigger named Hollywood films. The 1080P video is framed in what is likely its native aspect ratio, 1.78:1. The AVC video encode averages a quality 31.02 Mbps for the main feature, on a BD-50. The sharp image is completely free of compression artifacts.
The color palette is rendered with stark black levels and casts a slightly digital pallor to flesh-tones. A few early scenes show some slight crushing to the shadow detail, but for the most part demonstrate fine delineation and texture. Easily its strongest points are the crystal-clarity of most shots and the extraordinary amount of razor-sharp detail. Close-ups generate an amazing appreciation of the make-up work involved, revealing fine details down to the pores.
Fright Night 2’s sharpness and unerring focal depth really can’t be overlooked, a hallmark of its clean digital cinematography. Not counting the stray digital composite or VFX, it possesses very pleasing picture quality free of grain or noise. The only mark against it is the brief excursion the movie takes into a form resembling motion comics. The art is not up to snuff for a major motion picture and looks rushed.
At times the score for Fright Night 2 is brilliant, mimicking Jerry Goldsmith’s classic horror score for The Omen. It provides an eerie, spooky atmosphere in a harrowing manner, more intended for straight horror than what the franchise has been known for in the past. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is a powerful mix with nice directionality and appropriate ambient noises. Its wide dynamic range has excellent fidelity and clear dialogue, subtly reproducing dripping blood and other haunting cues. This mix is not quite on par with the latest Hollywood blockbusters but punches above its weight for the horror genre, incorporating audio elements typically found in action flicks.
The three included subtitle options are English SDH, Spanish, and French. All display in a white font.
Fright Night 2 is relatively packed with special features for a movie that made no impact at the box office, especially considering the state of home video releases these days. The set includes a DVD, the only way to watch Fright Night 2’s R-rated cut. The Blu-ray only features the unrated version, though I strongly doubt anyone will care to see the cut version after watching the unrated cut. Fox has also included both an Itunes digital copy and an UltraViolet copy, redeemable on either VUDU or Flixster. Redeeming it on VUDU gives you a copy of the movie in HDX quality.
Dracula Revealed (06:15 in HD) – Author Rebecca Johns details the history of Countess Elizabeth Bathory and her impact on Fright Night 2’s narrative. Members of both the cast and crew briefly pop up in this featurette, discussing Dracula and Bathory within the context of the film. It’s a fine, if brief, look into a bit of sordid history and some minor production tidbits.
Fright Night Webisodes (11:31 in HD) – These are four mini-episodes done in character by Peter Vincent, the host of reality program “Fright Night” seen in the film. Two segments feature supposed spooky happenings at Poenari Castle, while another two segments focus on Cachtrice Castle. They are surprisingly entertaining for material that wasn’t deemed good enough to make the final cut of the movie, though their cheesy nature does not really work within the context of the story.
Audio Commentary by Director Eduardo Rodriguez and Producers Alison Rosenzweig and Michael Gaeta – This is a rollicking, honest commentary from the movie’s producers and its director. Eduardo Rodriguez is upfront about the quick production schedule and willing to point out flaws. The producers tend to be quieter and more droll in their comments about production issues. It is a lively, engaging discussion from people that seem genuinely interested in being at a commentary, which is half the battle most of the time. This is worth a listen even if you end up not liking the movie.
Sneak Peek – Trailers for the following programs are provided: 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded, Stoker, The East, American Horror Story: Asylum.
Preceding the main menu are the following trailers, all in HD: Blu-ray Promo (01:18), Carrie 2013 (02:28), Twixt (01:34), Vikings (01:03).
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.