30 Days of Night (2007)
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Review Date: February 06, 2008
Director: David Slade
Writer: Steve Niles, Stuart Beattie, Brian Nelson
Producers: Sam Raimi, Robert G. Tapert
Josh Hartnett as Eben
Melissa George as Stella
Danny Huston as Marlow
A small Alaskan town (pop. 152) is prepping for that time of year when they have 30 days in a row without any light (yeah, that’s right…30 days of night, natch!). But it isn’t long before the good folks living in that small town realize that another “gang” of “people” have landed in their fair town and are now chomping at the bit to…well, chomp them at the bit! I’m not sure if that last sentence makes sense, but it sounded good. Anyway, vampires chomping into people’s necks with tons of blood gushing all over the coke-white snow…ensues!
A poor man’s updated version of THE THING with vampires? Sorta, but overall the film lacks the consistent suspense and character elements of the former film, despite giving us a new breed of blood-suckers that look like hell and munch and bloody it up with the best of them (forget about those hottie vamps from INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, these folks are ugly motherfuckers!!). In fact, I really can’t imagine what a PG-13 version of this film would have been, because as it stands now, some of its finest elements have to do with its extreme gore and sheer bloodiness. Sure, some of the kills were teased and shown off-screen (particularly, early on), but a good number of them were shown and let me tell you, this film doesn’t hold back much on the gruesome stuff, i.e. if you can’t stand the sight of blood, move on to the next item up for bid. I did like many things about this movie, including the aforementioned goriness, the effective nature of the vampires’ looks (the folks behind I AM LEGEND’s cgi should take some lessons from this film’s lack of CGI use…yay for practical effects!!), the authentic and claustrophobic look and feel of the small Alaskan town, and the pacing, the premise and the final scene of the film.

There were, on the other hand, a number of “small things” that didn’t work for me, including the story, which despite setting itself up well, seemed to leave too many questions unanswered, some characters which popped up out of nowhere sometimes, the lack of real background on any of the leads (So were Hartnett and George married or what?! Was that blonde baby-girl who shows up at some point, theirs?) and the overuse of that stupid super-speed camera during some of the film’s kill and fight scenes. I know I’ve said this in various reviews before, but when are directors gonna realize that showing us a fight going 300mph isn’t really pleasant for an audience to watch. Also, one of the characters gets blown to bits standing over a box of dynamite in one shot, and one scene later, he’s shown with some burns on half his face and crawling through the snow. Uuuuuuhhhh, no. I just saw him get flamed up by the cocka-doodee dynamite!!! Also, even though the vampires looked damn scary, they ultimately didn’t come across as the brightest of peeps, leading me to question 1) why they would even spend so much time chasing after only a handful of people 2) what they were doing with all of their time while the leftover humans were hiding and 3) how they came to be in the first place (i.e. no background on them whatsoever?). As for Hartnett, even though I didn’t buy him as a sheriff of a town at first (the man can still pass for an 18-year old, if you ask me), his acting chops – and cheesy half-beard – ultimately made me a believer, with the film’s final sequences all ringing true.

What didn’t ring true, on the other hand, was what happened to the lead vamp in one of the film’s final scenes (oh, great job by Danny Huston, by the way, although his pontificating speeches were pretty lame-o). I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, so I won’t get into details here, but needless to say, I didn’t buy what happened to their oh-so powerful leader. Overall though, the film sported a great pace, awesome practical effects, an extremely authentic look and feel, and a number of entertaining sequences, as well as a fine premise, but its characters weren’t too well developed, neither were the blood-suckers, and there seemed to be too many plot holes that weren’t properly explained (or understood, by my dumb ass). I do highly recommend it to all vampire movie lovers though, as it certainly does entertain, particularly for those who consider a man chopping off the head of one of his friends…entertaining. Twice! PS: Melissa George is damn cute!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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