30 Days of Night (2007)

July 29, 2009 - 7:24am | FrighT MasteR
  Tags: 30 days of night, based on comic, Ben Foster, blood, Craig Hall, Danny Huston, david slade, gore, Josh Hartnett, Manu Bennett, Melissa George, vamps

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David Slade
Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster, Craig Hall, Manu Bennett, Danny Huston

Based on the comic book series by Steve Niles, the feature film re-invents the vampire sub-genre by not only giving them slightly different physical characteristics, but also their own ancient language. These vamps are more vicious than their counterparts, and luckily don't fly or have ridiculously expensive designer-looking clothing, like how they're sometimes portrayed in recent movies. Directed by David Slade (Hard Candy) and budgeted at $30-million, the film has gone through a series of writers, originally starting with creator Steve Niles, and although set in Alaska, filming took place in various locations throughout New Zealand. I've never read the comics, so can't compare the differences between the two, but from what I've heard they aren't entirely different from each other.

The film is set in a small secluded town in Alaska where each year they have a period of 30 days where sunlight is completely absent. The day before this event happens, while most of the town is leaving, a series of mysterious events occur, from a hole filled with burnt satellite phones to a pack or butchered sled dogs, as if someone were removing all forms of communication and possible escape from the town. Josh Hartnett plays the local sheriff, who discovers "The Stranger" causing a ruckus in a diner, and keys him to the strange events. Locked in a cell, he warns the sheriff and the others within the station of what's to come. Once the sun finally sets, the town's power plant is disabled leaving them without electricity and in total darkness. It's at this moment that the vampires make their appearance and essentially slaughter the remaining members of the town, leaving only a small number of survivors, who are forced to hide themselves until sunlight returns.

In reality the sun in the actual town doesn't appear above the horizon until 67 days and within this time there's still a little light in the afternoon for a few hours, but that obviously wouldn't have made much of an interesting movie. A 20-minute mini-series called "Blood Trails" aired online shortly before this film's release, and served as a prequel to the events leading to the vampires attack on the town. The movie opened to the number one spot during its first weekend run, and has since nearly made its budget back, despite mixed reviews from critics (mostly positive from genre fans, however). I personally enjoyed the film. It was entertaining, creative, and had some pretty badass vampires, especially the lead bloodsucker "Marlow". We're given relatively no back-story on these guys, with the exception of a small hint of dialogue that they've been around for ages and have kept securely hidden from the modern world thanks to their clever ways of covering their tracks.

Next to their new physical characteristics, I also liked how they were just generally brutal, as if they're not just in it for the blood, but the thrill and enjoyment of the kill. For instance, instead of biting and sucking the blood from one troublesome survivor, Marlow simply crushes the dude's head with his foot (short, but awesome scene). These guys also let out loud shrieks throughout the movie, which both seem to serve not only to strike fear in their prey, but seemingly also to communicate with one another. I personally can't think of any other better representation of a vampire, at least not in present day cinema. However, the film isn't without its flaws -- my biggest gripe had to be the horrible shaky camerawork apparent in all the action sequences. I understand that it helps build tension, but it seriously makes it hard to see what the hell's happening, and the movie could have done away with most of it.

Aside from the head-stomp, there's only one other great brutal scene involving a close up of a man getting his head severed by an axe. Other than that, most of the gore relies on a lot of blood-splatter, clawing, and neck-bites, with the exception of the way a few other vampires die. I actually expected the movie to be much gorier, but what was presented didn't disappoint, and I'm sure we'll get an unrated and gorier version when it's released on DVD. Although the film ends a little abrupt and may resemble another vampire film, I was pleased with it. Hopefully we'll see a sequel, especially since the story in the comic is continued through three official releases, before spawning into other sub-stories involving different characters and vampires.

The film successfully re-invents the sub-genre and delivers a group of vampires more fearsome and brutal than ever before. Filled with lots of violence, blood, and badass characters, the movie will surely not disappoint the avid horror fan. Although the film suffers from "shaky-cam-syndrome" and gives us a somewhat abrupt climax, it was an overall entertaining watch. Worth a check.

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FrighT MasteR's picture
FrighT MasteR is an avid horror fan / monster hunter extraordinaire, who created and has been running UHM since its inception, way back in 1999.




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