There are a few things in this world that make me uncomfortable. Being stuck in a barren wasteland is one of them. And although I’m not a person who fears the dark, something about being stuck in it for and extended period of time sends shivers down my spine. I’m also not a big fan of the thought of being hunted by bloodthirsty creatures either. So much to my chagrin, three of my fears have come to fruition with the movie 30 Days of Night.
It’s based off of the graphic novel of the same name by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith. The story revolves around the small, desolate Alaskan town of Barrow, at which during the peak of winter the sun sets and doesn’t return for 30 long days. To the remaining townsfolk’s dismay (hundreds haul ass to better locales prior to the final sunset), sun fearing vampires have learned of this event and have descended on the town for a month of unfettered and unrestricted feeding. The task of director David Slade was to faithfully bring this horrid story to the big screen. He does the concept justice, even though he runs into a few minor glitches.
Those glitches are forgivable since we’re really here solely to watch the bloodfeast and not so much for the characters, strong plot or great cinematics. As one could suspect, it is awfully difficult for the concept of time to be delivered when there is no sun light to break up the nights. The film captures various days during the 30 day siege, but from our perspective one day appears the same as the previous – there is nothing setting them apart from one another. Plot inconsistencies abound. Why does the airport close? Wouldn’t the family and friends who left raise an alarm when they couldn’t reach their loved ones? As for character development, thankfully there isn’t need for much. Aside from getting to semi-know our heroes, Eben (Josh Hartnett) and his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George), every other character is a throwaway – they are there simply as a vessel to provide nourishment to some very hungry vampires.
It’s these undead dinner guests that sets 30 Days of Night apart from the typical vampire movie. Under general circumstances, the vampire is a very seductive, intelligent and charismatic being. That’s not the case here – not by a long shot. These vampires are evil, barbaric and sadistic animals. There is a scene where a woman is circled by a throng of these creatures and is systematically being slashed and wounded; it reminded me of watching a killer whale toy with a baby seal before devouring it. Adding to their dreariness is the communication methods they employ. Marlow (Danny Huston), the leader of the brood, speaks in an ancient Gothic sounding language that alone is enough to make one piss his pants. But nothing gets the blood pumping more than hearing the prolonged shrieks of the other vampires breaking the stillness of the night.
For the faithful, the movie does veer from the graphic novel a bit (no Judith Ali plot and no lovey-dovey crap) but you’ll be happy to know that the meat of the story has been left wholly unchanged. There is plenty of gore and ingenious methods to kill humans and vampires for all parties with a vested interest. 30 Days of Night should be on everyone’s list of have to see movies of 2007. If you haven’t done so yet, see it. Afterwards you can thank heaven that vampires are just a figment of someone’s twisted imagination and that you don’t live anywhere near the Arctic Circle.