May 20th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Films |

30 Day of Night (2007)

by Ghastly McNasty

Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s vampire graphic novel gets the big screen treatment by director David Slade. Niles originally wanted his story to be a movie but a lack of interest from the studios forced him to release it as a comic book miniseries. Big comic fan Sam Raimi helps out as producer while Niles does get to have his creative input by co-writing the screenplay.

30 Days of Night Poster

30 Days of Night takes place in Barrow, Alaska, a town that suffers an extended winter period where the sun doesn’t rise for 30 days. The majority of the town don’t like to live in permanent darkness so many head south or visit relatives leaving a skelington crew of 150 hardcore locals to sit out the shitty weather. During the exodus local sheriff Eben Olesen (Josh Hartnett) finds himself investigating a series of unusual crimes including telephone theft, sabotage of the town’s helicopter and the brutal slaying of all sled dogs. It seems that someone is trying to destroy communications and means of escape. Eventually, when the power gets cut off, a band of ruthless vampires attack slaughtering the hapless townsfolk and feasting on their corpses.

This is turn up for the books, a film better than it’s source material! While the graphic novel version of 30 Days of Night isn’t too bad, it does rush through the entire excellent concept and cram the whole 30 days in to what feels like 24 hours. The film has a chance to flesh out the story and characters and makes an entertaining tale of us puny humanity trying to survive in a perpetual state of darkness against the all time creatures of the night. There’s no barricading yourself in the ammo room and making a stand. It’s about cowering in the smallest hole you can find and hoping when the vampires find you it will be a quick death.

Even with Hartnett as the lead the first half hour manages to build up an awful amount of tension. There’s a sense of impending doom as the sun packs its bags and the omen spouting stranger the sheriff picks up in the local diner only add to the feeling that something bad is just around the corner. It’s very nicely handled and by the time the real horror kicks in you should be a gibbering bag of nerves. Of course the film has it’s faults and stumbles occasionally with the 30 day timeline. Fortunately dialogue is kept to a minimum mostly because the survivors are too busy being scared shitless.

 30 Days of Night

The Buffy-fication of vamps humanized the bloodsuckers beyond recognition, giving them feelings and a desire to do good behind their undead eyes. Thankfully, the vampires in 30 Days of Night are right at the other end of the scale. I’ve not seen a vampire movie portray vampires in such a scary way in a long long time. Rather than having all the vamps wear the same tired vampire mask as seen in Buffy, Dusk till Dawn, and countless films since, these vampires all as individually freaky as you can get. Not only that but they are portrayed as animal in instincts and desires. Savage, brutal, and bloodthirsty just the way real monsters should be. When they finally attack barrow full force it’s quick and ruthless. It’s an unnatural rather than supernatural.

This film also pulls no punches in the gore department. There are plenty of squeamish deaths and decapitations and bucket loads of blood. Lovely!

A sorely missed return to form for the vampire movie. Big on scares and gore. 8/10

by Ghastly McNasty

Theatre of Terror

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