30 Days of Night
Sam Raimi, Robert G. Tapert, Joseph Drake (executive), Aubrey Henderson (executive), Nathan Kahane (executive), Mike Richardson (executive) for Ghost House Pictures, Dark Horse Comics, Columbia
directed by David Slade
starring Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster, Mark Boone Junior, Mark Rendall, Amber Sainsbury, Manu Bennett, Megan Franich, Joel Tobeck, Elizabeth Hawthorne, Nathaniel Lees, Craig Hall, Chic Littlewood, Peter Feeney, Min Windle, Camille Keenan, Jack Walley, Elizabeth McRae, Joe Dekkers-Reihana, Scott Taylor, Grant Tilly, Pua Magasiva, Jared Turner, Kelson Henderson, John Wraight, Patrick Kake, Thomas Newman, Rachel Maitland-Smith, Abbey-May Wakefield, John Rawls, Andrew Stehliln, Tim McLachlan, Ben Fransham, Kate Elliott, Allan Smith, Jarrod Martin, Sam La Hood, Jacob Tomuri, Kate O'Rourke, Melissa Billington, Aaron Cortesi, Matt Gillanders
screenplay by Steve Niles, Stuart Beattie, Brian Nelson, based on the comic by Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith, published by Dark Horse Comics, music by Brian Reitzell, special effects by Film Effects Co, special makeup effects by Weta Workshop, visual effects by Cobalt FX, Digital Post, PRPVFX, Weta Digital
Sam Jones from DVD is Go
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Barrow Alaska is the most Northernly town in America. So far
North in fact that for 30 days in deep winter the sun doesn't rise at all. A
perfect place for vampires, who, having sent in a willing human slave to
vandalize communications, destroy transportation and murder the huskies, descend
upon the town to wreck havoc and feed on the helpless population.
A fantastic premise for a fearsome horror movie then, but the results are
Josh Hartnett, never the most charismatic of actors, puts in a servicible lead
performance as sheriff of the luckless town. He has to help protect the
dwindling towns people from some of the most frightening bloodsuckers ever put
on film. While most modern screen vampires are either foppish aristocrats or
resemble denizens of a Goth club near you, the fanged demons of 30 Days of Night
are truly nightmarish. Ugly, dirty creatures with sallow flesh and rotted teeth,
they are truly bestial. Merciless, predatory and unrelenting in their desire for
human blood, they make up for some of the patchier elements in this uneven film.
The main problem with the film is that it's hard to judge the passing of time.
Although occasionally the number of days flashes up on the screen, for the most
part the film feels like it's happening on one night, rather than over the
course of a number of weeks. A few three week beards and the odd complaint about
food doesn't really convey the sheer terror of being hunted for an extended
period of time.
Dodgy dialogue rears it's ugly head as well. Yes, I know this is a horror film
and ropey word play should be par for the course, but the movie is excellent in
other respects so it's a real shame that many scenes are ruined by cheesy, badly
executed chat and cliched relationship drama.
The Sheriff is in an troubled coupling with a fire marshall, Stella, who has
been stranded after missing her plane to Anchorage but, even taking into
consideration the icy setting of the movie, there's precious little heat between
the two of them.
The worst moment for poor scripting comes when the remaining survivors happen
upon a young girl who has been turned as they forage for food in the General
Store. A scene that neatly echoes the zombie child in Night of the Living
they stumble upon her as she sucks the blood out of an unfortunate grown-up.
It's a shock when she turns around and reveals her fangs and gore caked face.
But then she delivers some awful dialogue about who she's going to play with
next. A chilling howl would have been better. The adult vampires emit a range of
grunts, hisses and screams throughout the movie but instead we have a terrible
line that kills an otherwise great shock set piece stone dead. It brought to
mind that awful moment in the generally fine remake of Dawn of the Dead when the
audience is treated to a glimpse of a zombie baby. The gross and disgusting
beheading of the vampire child that follows is seriously deflated by this ill
Which leads me on to the other big problem. The film has a habit of cutting away
from the blood letting. Call me sick, jaded even, but when I watch a horror
movie, I've signed up for gore...and guts. When the axes start swinging I want
to see the bone, gristle and blood. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of Claret
on show and this film has one of the screen's finest beheadings. One the
survivors is about to turn having suffered a bite and the grim sight of his head
being separated from his shoulders is a spectacular, drawn out slice of gross
Unfortunately, the film makers made the mistake of thinking that leaving the
gore to our imagination for at least half the kills in this movie would aid the
suspense. That's fine is your making a film about three geeks in a wood with a
camcorder and no money, but when you've got a good budget and the film' about
drinking blood, cannibalistic murder and VAMPIRES, for Gods sake, let's see the
violence. I'm over 18. I can handle it.
It may seem like I'm being unjustly picky about the film but I had high hopes
for this one. The setting and concept had a lot of potential and there are
moments of real, palpable terror but the whole thing rings a little hollow in
the end. It's not a complete wash out and is still worth seeing if only for the
vampires themselves. They are the stars of this film and will remain in the
memory long after the human characters, who exist to be eaten and little else.
The Scandanavian vampire movie Frostbite toyed with the same concept a few
years back to excellent effect, coming across like a snowbound Lost Boys, but
Days of Night, despite some great moments is the lesser film. Hardcore horror
fans will still find much to love though.
review © by Sam Jones from DVD is Go
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