US (dir. David Slade)
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster, Mark Boone Jr.
Synopsis: In a sleepy, secluded Alaska town called Barrow, the sun sets and doesn’t rise for over thirty consecutive days and nights. From the darkness, across the frozen wasteland, an evil will come that will bring the residents of Barrow to their knees. The only hope for the town is the Sheriff and Deputy, a husband and wife who are torn between their own survival and saving the town they love.
Review: “30 Days of Night” is as delightfully gory as it is graphic. Unfortunately, the plot line suffers from being a tad weak and under-developed, likely something that may have been due to the transfer of the story from graphic novel to film. Though I have only skimmed through the graphic novel upon which it was based, the film is successful in visually capturing the “graphic-ness” of the source material while. The vampires were also exceptionally well crafted with their extremely disturbing appearances and vicious overall demeanor. However, the lack of a well developed story and strong performances left this movie feeling more like an empty, visual treat with nothing more to offer the audience than stunning imagery.
With all that darkness, snow and the remote location, “30 Days of Night” is successful in achieving that uneasy, claustrophobic feel. Unfortunately, the titular “30 days” of absolute darkness and the ensuing chaos as a result of a vampire invasion feels more like 2 or 3 days of night at most. Without any of the survivors of the vampire invasion showing any signs of suffering through 30 days of minimal food, cold weather, and the possible effects of cabin fever (such as boredom and fighting), you’d think they were just facing a weekend of misery instead of 30 days of horror. Perhaps showing the survivors with a more signs of wear and tear would have given this film more of an edge to it. Unfortunately, “30 Days of Night” makes surviving a vampire attack in an isolated town in Alaska during a 30 day period without sunlight feel like a only a weekend with some mild inconveniences.
As mentioned, when it comes to visuals, “30 Days of Night” is exceptional. Every scene is beautifully shot and looks like it was ripped out of the pages of a graphic novel. In fact, one of the best scenes in the movie (a visual treat, in fact) is an overhead shot of the townspeople getting literally torn to shreds by the vicious vamps. When it comes to comparing the visuals to the story however, the visuals are a clear winner because the story leaves much to be desired. We get very little back story on virtually every character and character development feels lacking. In a sense, this movie feels like it’s more focused on showing how awesomely brutal the vampires look and how violent and graphic their actions are then developing any sort of solid story about either the vampires or the human survivors.
Speaking of the vampires of “30 Days of Night”, they are hands down, nasty. And I mean nasty in that they are brutal and violent in ways not often portrayed in vampire horror flicks. They are quite nearly animalistic. The role of the lead vampire, Marlow was performed by Danny Huston almost perfectly despite all those brief, cryptic comments that were, at best, downright creepy (“God? No God!”), and at times even nonsensical.
In a movie like “30 Days of Night”, you pretty much expect to be more interested in the vampire characters anyways, but would it have really hurt anyone to create more interesting human characters? Sure, we get hottie Josh Hartnett toughing it out as town sheriff with his trusty deputy and estranged wife in tow, but we don’t really ever get to care too much about them, and their relationships between each other is just as flimsy as any on-screen chemistry they may share. Josh Hartnett turning into one of the vampires in order to be able to fight them all single handedly pretty much becomes the highlight of the movie, but it’s at that point where I think there was virtually two or three survivors left and it was day 29, so really, they could have just waited it out.
Unfortunately, the vampire Josh Hartnett is short-lived, and there’s a whole sacrificial lovey-dovey ending that sort of ends the film on a sad note. They make up for it with a pretty fucking incredible beheadment scene earlier in the movie that is one of the best I’ve seen in years. Best beheadment ever?
“30 Days of Night” is worth checking out, and it has replay value too, so adding it to your DVD collection in the vampires section is not such a bad idea. Unfortunately, awesome visuals fail to outshine the fact that the script isn’t very solid, so don’t expect too much beyond good looks.