30 Days of Night
Running Time: 113 minutes
Directed By David Slade
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Ben Foster
Rating: 4.5 out of 10
A small town in Alaska is set upon by Vampires and the sun won’t rise for 30 days.
Vampires are one of mans worst nightmares on film. They have stalked us since we have been able to record our history in writing. They have stalked us in our cities and our towns. They look for our blood in our subways and our hospitals. They have even stalked us in our dreams. The ends of the earth are not even enough for these blood sucking fiends as they have followed us to the frozen lands of Alaska. 30 Days of Night is the story of the small populace of Barrow, Alaska. Every winter this town is hit with 30 days of perpetual darkness due to its geographical location. This darkness phenomenon brings in a group of Vampires looking to feed on its unsuspecting citizens. It is man versus vampire and 30 days seems like a long time without sun when your life is on the line.
This movie offers moments of greatness but more often than not is dragged down by poor storyline angles and dull movie watching. The film starts off by introducing us to the players involved but more importantly the setting where this battle for survival will take place. The dark and snowy town of Barrow is a great place for mans last stand. The smallish makeshift town does a great job of letting the viewer know how isolated this place really is. The slow build up of random acts of vandalism and increasing snowfall give the movie the right feel for horror. I liked this film for its crescendo of violence. It starts off with random people getting dragged off into the darkness quicker than you can blink. It then quickly escalates into every man for himself chaos. Gun fire permeates the night air and blood is liberally splattered over the stark white snow. The Vampires themselves are the best part of the film. They are not here to seduce young woman or battle werewolves they are here for the blood. They are pale and simplistic and look like hunters of the night with their thin razor sharp teeth. They don’t even stop to wipe the blood off their mouths after a kill which is a nice touch.
Actor Josh Hartnett playing town sheriff Eben Oleson does nothing with the role. Sure he is okay as a cop but there is something about him that is off in this film and it is a distraction. His estranged wife Stella Oleson, played by the actress Melissa George is unremarkable unless you count the fact her teeth are too big for her mouth. Viewers of this film are not here for the humans they are here for the Vampires and they won’t be disappointed. The lead Vampire Marlow played by Danny Huston uses a calm approach to radiate terror. He is supported by a cast of Vampires that have the look and movements down so they come off as quite evil and disturbing. Lastly the vampire’s familiar played by Ben Foster is perfectly cast and offers a great portrayal. Foster is this dishevelled maniac and once again he wins you over with his intense eyes. Not only does he carry out the vampires wishes he adds some merit to the thin story.
I have been praising this movie a lot but it falls apart about halfway through. The film goes from a frantic tale of survival to one of boredom and general malaise. It won’t take a genius to see which townspeople will be slaughtered first. Although it is a cool venue and the director doesn’t hesitate using kids in the slaughter it seems the magic has left the film once the Vampires walk around the streets unmolested. There is something unnerving and exciting about characters being gored from the dark places in the town as opposed to hiding from these creatures in attics and stores. The film drags itself into just an anticlimactic predictable ending ruining such a good start to the film. The film could have worked if they kept it to gun fights and blood spray instead of crawling around and hiding. They also could have provided a little more character development. I normally hate inane back story but the vampires are not explained well. Where do they come from? Why do they talk in a hideous foreign language? Lastly why do they scream announcing their presence when on the kill? There are tons of other unanswered questions about them that they never get to leaving the story unfulfilled.
Director David Slade took on a monster of a film and just couldn’t wrangle it into something viable. He has the gore down and certainly the slow rise of terror. What he didn’t do right though cost this film a recommendation. Going from high action to a slow drawn out drama midway through ruined the vibe of this film. Also while some of the gore and blood was great other times it was highly computerized losing a lot of its realistic feel. I can see vampire enthusiasts really enjoying this film as the setting and vampires are awesome it is just not a well cast or scripted film.
I cannot recommend this film while it is entertaining the story is as bleak and bland as its locale.
T Factor + If you like blood and or vampire movies this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you do not like Josh Hartnett as an actor this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Daybreakers, Underworld.