The best part of “Lost Boys: The Thirst” has to be that it isn’t “Lost Boys: The Tribe,” a putrid DTV sequel released in 2008 that did a masterful job tarnishing the legacy of the original, and much beloved, Joel Schumacher film from 1987. Though nobody explicitly asked for it, outside of Corey Feldman’s agent, the plague continues in this second sequel, which is a lighter, brighter, more cartoon take on the vampire-hunting premise, but still lacks the flavorful horror-comedy ingredients that made the first picture such an enduring classic.
Struggling to pay the bills and deal with the death of his pal Sam, Edgar Frog (Corey Feldman) hasn’t been able to engage the outside world much, trying to stay in contact with his brother Alan (Jamison Newlander), who’s working to suppress his vampire urges. Offered a job to retrieve the brother of a popular teen vampire novelist (Tanit Phoenix) from the clutches of a bloodsucking club DJ (Seb Castang), Edgar eagerly accepts, recruiting comic book store employee Zoe (Casey B. Dolan) to help. Heading into a colossal rave to stop the mass distribution of The Thirst, a deadly vampire drug, Edgar and his posse find they might be in over their heads with these fanged hipster parasites, requiring the services of an old ally to survive the fight.
Shot in South Africa (awkwardly attempting to pass for Southern California), “The Thirst” aims for a more illuminated, welcoming take on vampiric happenings, with bright sunlight and beautiful beaches helping the film to relax after the humorlessness of “The Tribe” burned off all the fun. With a change in locale and some needed franchise hindsight, director Dario Piana has a major opportunity to get the series back on track, or at least back to giddy vampire-smashing basics, anchored by Feldman and his Eastwoodesque grunting and squinting.
Of course, not having any sort of budget kills the mood of “The Thirst” immediately, with Piana unsuccessfully trying to make the pocket change set aside to finance this picture feel like something substantial. Despite some needed breathing room provided in the film’s climatic rave showdown, everything else here feels cut-rate and unimaginative. With an effeminate music DJ as the main villain and Newlander’s role basically reduced to a brief cameo, the script misfires on a conceptual level, missing a chance to supply a furious Frog Brother free-for-all the fans want to see and the film sorely needs. I’m all for sexy vampires strutting around topless while the band Aiden once again musically urinates on “Cry Little Sister,” but “The Thirst” needed to kick down the doors and hit the viewer right in the face with a big, snappy show of splattery genre force. Instead, it’s meager parade of drab kills and uninspired cartoon weaponry, leaning on Feldman to bring “Lost Boys” magic he doesn’t possess.
Using flashbacks to the original film here is a bit of a cheat, with “The Thirst” attempting to erect an emotional bridge for Edgar that allows the series to say goodbye to Corey Haim and welcome Newlander back into the fold. Reminding viewers how well it was done the first time around isn’t a smart play for Piana. “The Thirst” actually feels more like a SyFy pilot, with the franchise finally getting past vampires to send the Frog Brothers out on Scooby-Doo missions -- the climax of the film hinting that werewolves may be the next stop on monster tracking tour.
What made “The Lost Boys” unique wasn’t hissing vampires and Corey Feldman, it was the feature’s sense of style, humor, and era-appropriate youth market pageantry. It was crimson-blasted screen seduction. It was a shirtless behemoth playing a saxophone. Making these sequels on the cheap misses the point of the 1987 picture, turning Mr. Schumacher’s wild ride into lazy efforts that lack scares, laughs, and often purpose.