What I'm Watching: Fright Night 2: New Blood
So, I enjoyed the 2011 remake of Fright Night. Mainly because of the cast, but it was a fun movie. David Tennant was hilariously over the top as a Vegas magician, and Colin Farrell was deliciously over the top and enjoying his role SO much, he was just having a blast with it.
And that is at least one of the strengths of this sequel, but I'll get to that.
The first thing you need to know is, this is NOT a sequel. It's a remake. But it's not even a remake of the original Fright Night 2, which would've been fine, if still annoying, but at least acceptable to go that route.
Nope, this is ANOTHER remake of the original story. So really is Fright Night, with a new cast.
What person possibly has the decision to go, "Hey, remember that movie that we did two years ago? Let's do it again! With the same story! But an all-new cast of people that don't have anywhere NEAR the same star quality, and make it direct to video!"
How is that a good decision in ANYone's mind?!
They try and justify this in the commentary track by saying, hey! James Bond changes actors all the time and just keeps going! Yes, BUT they also don't call it "The Living Daylights 2" and tell the exact same story with everyone who died the first time coming back to life magically because they need to die AGAIN in the *ahem* sequel.
And I'm sorry, but you are no James Bond franchise, Fright Night.
With all that out of the way though, how is the actual movie, taken on its own merits?
Surprisingly, it's not terrible. The story is a LITTLE different, with Charlie, Amy, and "Evil" Ed *muttermutterdiedinthelastmoviethisisaSEQUELtomutterdamnitmutter* heading to Romania this time for a school trip, and moving next door to their professor Gerri Dandridge, who, gasp! Is a vampire!
I like at least mixing it up by having our heroes move next door to the villain, instead of the bad guy coming into town. I also like making Gerri, who gets turned into a woman with the reboot, is tied to the legends of Elizabeth Bathory, an infamous serial killer, and rightly connected to vampires thanks to her own obsession with blood. So that's actually a decent addition to their mythology, and a good use of hers.
And just like the previous two Fright Nights, Charlie discovers Gerri's secret, and rushes to famed monster hunter, Peter Vincent. This time, Peter's the host of an online 'ghost hunter' style show, that actually works really well for the character's archetype and updating it for today.
Sadly, that's the best thing about the character of Peter Vincent. Ultimately, he does absolutely nothing, adds nothing to the plot, and does very little but doubt Charlie at every turn. Which isn't surprising, but by the time he believes, he doesn't really impart any great wisdom or actions that impact the plot AT ALL. A total waste, which is a shame because as I said, the updating is good, and the actor isn't bad with what he's given.
Colin Farrell's Jerry becomes Jaime Murray's Gerri, and I will say straight up, she is HANDS DOWN the best thing in this movie. Turning the character into a femme fatale, seeking release from her curse, and tying it all in with Bathory actually makes for a compelling, seductive character which Murray excels at playing. She knocks it out of the park, and the role is practically tailor-made for her, and right in line with the other roles she has played. She embodies the character, and thrills at her actions in a way very similar to Colin, and you can actually see the two characters coming from the same cloth, and split by this weird multiverse.
Also, they do some genuinely unique things, at least to the best of my (admittedly sometimes spotty) recollection. The best part is giving their vampires actual echolocation abilities, which was definitely really neat.
The actors for the human kids aren't terrible. They're actually pretty fun, but "Evil" Ed ends up with the worst of it, but that's mainly due to some really cheesy lines he gets. But hey, the Fright Night movies have ALL had a little bit of cheese in them, and this movie is no different. It goes a little far on that account only a few times, so the winces are few, at least.
Where the movie really falls apart is the very end, which always seems to be the case. But Fright Night goes above and beyond on that charge. Instead of just having an ending that doesn't work, or doesn't really end, this movie actually makes NO sense with its ending. And I am going to rant into spoiler territory, so yoy may want to turn back now if you really want to see this movie.
Seriously, this ending is just so baffling I need to go through it all and get it off my chest.
Gerri takes Amy to her lair, so her blood can cure Gerri of her curse. Charlie dutifully follows and is told that any vampires created by her will turn back to human if Gerri is killed before sunrise. Okay, still fine, right?
So Amy gets turned, and has to kill or turn Charlie or something, which she does. Charlie becoming a vampire actually comes in handy, because he kills himself to stop Amy from becoming a vampire, which doesn't make a lick of sense. And so it begins.
With Charlie dead, Amy starts to whither, taking away Gerri's one chance at freedom. Except Charlie missed his heart, so he wasn't REALLY dead! Then...why was there all that trouble and drama and whithering, if he wasn't dead? Did this suddenly become Princess Bride and he was only mostly dead??
Peter shows up briefly to stab Gerri through the heart, but she pulls the same trick, and HE missed HER heart too. So the one thing Peter actually does in the movie is an abject, pointless failure.
Okay, okay, things look bleak, but the sun isn't up yet, so there's stil hope! And THEN the sun comes up. Well, shit, so much for turning everyone back!
All the clocks go off, it's dawn, no one can be turned back, but Charlie still uses his high pitched bat-like powers to shatter the windows in the bathhouse of blood, causing Gerri to die from exposure, as vampires tend to do.
And with Gerri dead by the rays of dawn's early light, everyone turns back to normal and...wait...IT IS AFTER DAWN!
Yes, people. Fright Night 2. Where the rules are made up and the plot points don't matter.
Up until that ending that makes no sense, violates it's OWN damned rules, and is just ten minutes of headscratching, it's a decent enough vampire movie.
But the problem is, it's Fright Night. It's NOT it's own thing, you can only take it so much on its own merits. Especially when it's the THIRD remake, telling very much the same story. The new unique twists to it do shake things up, but it's stil the same story. You've seen it before. TWICE! And each one was better!
I was actually grooving along okay enough in this movie, even WITH that annoyance, and grumbling that Evil Ed should not still be kicking in a SEQUEL, but that ending was just so utterly incomprehensible and dumb that all my good will melted into a pool of blood like Gerri.
If you're a fan of Jaime Murray, this movie is STILL worth watching though, since she does a great job, and there is SOME fun here besides that, but at the end of the day, you ought to go see either of the other original Fright Nights before this. Both are superior films in every respect.
Meanwhile, the spirits of Charlie, Amy, Jerry or Gerri, Peter Vincent, and Ed, are forever stuck in a karmic repetition of their existence in infinite variations, until they finally get things right, I guess.