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FEARNET Movie Review: 'Fright Night 2' (2013)

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fright night 2As usual, let's begin with a brief history lesson.

 
Fright Night (1985) arrives from Columbia Pictures and writer/director Tom Holland (he'd later go on to direct Child's Play, The Temp, and Thinner), becomes a modest box office hit, and goes on to become a nostalgic favorite among horror fans of a certain age. (Like me.) Essentially a teenager vs. vampire rendition of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, the original Fright Night was about a kid who discovers that his new neighbor is a murderous bloodsucker -- but of course nobody believes him.
 
Fright Night Part 2 (1987) reunited the kid (William Ragsdale) and the reluctant hero (Roddy McDowall) from the first movie, but the plot (about a female vampire with a serious grudge) wasn't nearly as novel. Worth a look for fans of the original Fright Night, but certainly nothing too memorable.
 
Fright Night (2011) brought a very amusing Colin Farrell to the table as the angry vampire, and if the plot follows the original film a bit too thoroughly, there's at least a strong sense of humor (and style) to the reboot.
 
Fright Night 2 (2013) is the latest entry, and to say it's the weakest of the bunch would probably be an accurate assessment. It's one of those "in-name-only" sequels that has literally no connection to its predecessor -- which is always a little annoying -- but it also feels like a lot more like a Fright Night (1985) remake than a Fright Night (2011) sequel. I hope that made sense.
 
A group of American students are studying art history in Romania, and it doesn't take long before Charlie Brewster (Will Payne) and his annoying friend "Evil" Ed (Chris Waller) realize that their gorgeous professor Dandridge (Jaime Murray) is actually some sort of vampire queen with a none-too-subtle connection to the infamous Elizabeth Bathory. As usual there is a skeptical girlfriend (Sacha Parkinson) to rescue, and of course there is an all-new Peter Vincent (Sean Power) -- although now he's a chintzy reality show ghost hunter instead of the late-night horror host that he was in the original Fright Night.
 
You can probably figure out the rest of what Fright Night 2 has to offer, and while the movie certainly suffers from a variety of low-budget-related issues (cheap sets, inconsistent special effects, some fairly ripe acting performances), there are still a few half-decent assets afoot here. You'd have to approach a low-budget direct-to-video sequel to a remake with some sense of open-mindedness to appreciate this stuff, but this movie actually has some well-crafted sequences, a few moments of inexpensive spectacle that actually work, and some obvious talent in the cinematography, editing, and score departments.
 
Director Eduardo Rodriguez (Curandero) does all he can with a low budget, an odd location, and a very basic but sometimes clever screenplay by sequel-friendly screenwriter Matt Venne (White Noise 2, Mirrors 2), and the overall result is a quick, cheap, churn-it-out product that offers nothing you haven't seen before -- but if you love vampire stuff and you've seen the three Fright Night flicks that precede this one, you may find a few stray moments of fun here.
 
At the very least, the Queen Vampire Elizabeth Bathory lady is most assuredly worth watching. Most of Fright Night 2 is forgettable, but that woman is not.

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