Director – David Slade
Cast – 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
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Based on the successful 2002 comic series by the same name, 30 Days of Night gives us one of the better recent vampire experiences and comes with a sweet story as well. One year before the Twilight film bombardment began we were given an original take on the vampire sub-genre that also comes with some hard-hitting action, gore, and REAL vampires.
30 Days of Night stars Josh Hartnett(Halloween H2o: 20 Years Later) as Sheriff Eben Oleson, who is preparing his northern Alaskan town for the unusual phenomena in which they will experience 30 days of no sunlight, just darkness(a real phenomenon). When a series of heinous acts suddenly plague the town, Sheriff Oleson knows that something is not right, but he has no clue for what lies in store for the town. A gang of menacing vampires have made their way into the small town to take advantage of the month-long darkness and feed on the townsfolk. Undermanned and underpowered, Sheriff Oleson, with the assistance of his separated wife Fire Marshall Stella Oleson(Melissa George; Triangle, The Amityville Horror remake, Turistas), must band together whatever few survivors are left in the town and try to survive the longest month of their lives.
We horror fans always appreciate new ideas thrown into old horror sub-genres, and the vampire sub-genre is one of the oldest around. The idea of centering this film on the Alaskan phenomena of suffering a month-long delay of sunlight was a genius idea that really surprises me given I had never seen this used in previous horror films, despite this being the PERFECT atmosphere for some vampire carnage. We all know they cannot handle UV radiation, so the conditions could not be any better for some great vampire action. Thank screenwriters Steve Niles(original creator), Stuart Beattie(Hard Candy), Brian Nelson(Hard Candy, Devil) for this awesome story.
The rest of the storyline plays out well thanks to this unique idea, providing for many thrills, chills, and constant developments. By now you should all know that I am a huge idea of nowhere-to-run scenarios, and a small sleepy town plunged into darkness and miles from any other sign of remote civilization provides a nice nowhere-to-run scenario, and I loved it. None of our characters were safe, at any time, thanks to the vampires having free reign due to the lack of UV radiation, so once the vamps show up the tension is high and it never truly relents. We experience our protagonists resorting to hiding out in attics for extended periods of time, much like what Anne Frank went through, except she of course experienced a different breed of monster. Don’t think that for this film taking place in an isolated area that the film does not “move” very often, because it does. Our characters are constantly forced to relocate here and there, which is not only an anti-boredom technique but brings on some good tension as well given they must put themselves out in the open to do so. The ravaging gang of vampires were cool to watch, and even came with their own completely original language as well. We do not get much background information on them, and in this case I did not mind that one bit because simply put…it worked. Sadly, we do not really get many characters worth fighting for in this one, however that may fall more on acting and casting than the actual storyline. We do not get much character drama either, which came as a surprise to me given the circumstances they are facing. Usually in such dire situations there is a lack of social order and people begin arguing and going amok, but for some reason we do not get much of that in this film. It is not a requirement, but it sure does make for some added conflict that we could have used.
Director David Slade is no newbie to the horror genre thanks to his well-received breakout film Hard Candy(which I did not care much for), and it shows in this film. Is cinematography is awesome, providing a beautiful visual tone to the watch that only exemplified the vast amounts of gore he threw into the carnage. Slade provided some of the best vampire action I have ever seen, giving us maniacal vampires who stop at nothing to satisfy their bloodthirsty needs. I was really surprised at just how mean-spirited these vampires were, not merely just killing for blood but aiming to inflict as much pain as possible on their victims, something we rarely see employed but an awesome and well executed idea in this film. The look and mannerisms of the vampires rocked, and at times they seemed more like a mix between vampires and the high-speed “infected” from films like REC and 28 Days Later, except with the acrobatic abilities that vampires tend to possess. I mentioned that this film “moves” well thanks to its constantly changing sets, and I must commend Mr. Slade for using some awesome and creative sets which definitely helped with the film’s pacing. For a film just a few minutes shy of a two-hour runtime, good direction is key if you want to keep the viewer’s attention. At times the film did tend to slow down a bit, but thanks to the film’s captivating visuals you should not find yourself dozing off with this one.
Overall, this is a fun and cool vampire watch that delivers heavily on the action and gore, and comes with a unique story thanks to some ingenuity as well. Fans of real vampires giving real carnage should find this a fun watch, and it comes recommended from me.
– This film made the #10 spot on my Top 10 Horror Movies of 2007 post.