Actors: D.J. Cotrona, Zane Holtz, Eiza Gonzalez
Format: Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
Number of discs: 3
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Entertainment One
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Run Time: 448 minutes
Season one of “From Dusk till Dawn” had the benefit of a pre-established narrative structure lifted from the screenplay Quentin Tarantino wrote for Robert Rodriguez’s 1996 film. Season two doesn’t have this luxury, and it sacrifices much of the simplicity in the first season by creating a new direction for the characters and the plot. Unfortunately, a lot of the fun is also lost along the process, even more than was shed in the transformation from two-hour film to 10-episode seasons. Gone are the clever quips from Tarantino’s dialogue and parallelisms between vampirism and the criminal underworld now have as much subtlety as the fanged characters in direct sunlight.
The horror is almost entirely removed from the storyline now that half of the protagonists belong to the vampire family, and straightforward action gore has been replaced with a series of ineffectual heist/crime scenes. Whereas the original movie (and subsequently the first season of the show) cleverly blended a crime/gangster narrative with a straightforward horror film, this season feels more like “Twilight” dressed up as “Bonnie and
Clyde.” Even the arrival of
Rodriguez regular Danny Trejo as a supernatural assassin is somewhat weighed
down by the minutiae of the fantasy rules and a sudden departure from any
connections to the realism of the human world.
At the close of the first season, Seth (D.J. Cotrona) and Kate (Madison Davenport) survive the carnage of the Titty Twister battle, and we join them as small-time crooks in season two. Part of the problem is Seth’s new reliance on a drug addiction to numb his disappointment with the outcome of events. Despite being undead, Seth’s brother is handling the change with more ease than his sibling. Richie (Zane Holtz) and the vampire queen, Santánico Pandemonium (Eiza González), set out for revenge against the powerful vampire gang that used her as bait in the Titty Twister. Kate’s brother also survives the destruction of season one by emerging a vampire, though he takes a third path in choosing to team up with these very vampires, making the entire narrative something of a Mexican standoff between three opposing groups of criminals. While the potential for action may seem increased by having so many opposing characters, it mostly just increases the number of scenes they bicker amongst each other. There are some decent scenes of fighting, though far fewer and more spread out than the destruction of the first season.
Veering different directions from the source material is a double-edged sword, removing a structure that works from the series while simultaneously opening up opportunities for an original narrative. This would have been even better if the new direction for the story had been as much fun as the previous one. Instead, much of the melodrama between the two brothers (and between vampires and humans), merely resembles a slightly grittier and far less whitewashed “Vampire Diaries.” So much time is spent on the relationship bickering and the magical rules and loopholes of the supernatural that there is far less pure unadulterated mayhem.
The Blu-ray release for season two is stacked with extras, including plenty of involvement from Rodriguez, who provides audio commentaries and interviews for making-of featurettes for each of the 10 season two episodes. This is only the beginning, with featurettes for a handful of supporting actors, effects and production elements, mythology, and more. It is a seemingly never-ending assortment of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, almost as much as is in Full Tilt Boogie, the classic documentary film about the making of the original film.
Entertainment Value: 6/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 5.5/10
Historical Significance: 3/10