Theatrical Review: 30 Days of Night

In Alaska, some places undergo a natural phenomenon where they go a full month with absolutely no sunlight whatsoever, one of those places is the small town of Barrow, and right as this is about to occur, the small town is prepping for it with a full 80% of the town leaving for the period, just not being able to stand it. In the midst of this, the sheriff of the town Eben Oleson and the fire marshal, his wife, Stella, are going through their own personal crisis. But as darkness comes to Barrow, the population takes a slight increase as a group of vampires come to town, ready to feast and take full advantage of the natural phenomenon.

And that’s the basic premise to the new movie 30 Days of Night from director David Slade (who previously gave us the pedophile revenge/creepfest Hard Candy) and producer Sam Raimi, who’s obviously no stranger to horror films at all. This is adapted from the graphic novel by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, and as a comic reader, I’m sad to say that I’ve never read the book, so I’m really no judge about how faithful it is, but at the same time, it almost doesn’t matter to me, because what’s on-screen is one tremendous and very tense piece of horror entertainment right from the word “go.”

One thing I really admire is the approach taken with the vampires, they’re not these suave and sophisticated Euro-trash that’s all cliches (like seen in the Underworld films), though they are European, there’s still something quite different from what we’ve seen before, obviously looking like they’ve come from some refinement in their dress, their physical make-up is much more frightening, almost more of something out of Nosferatu and they speak purely in what sounds like a Slavic tongue, adding more to their intrigue.

The other thing that I really like with Slade’s very stylish film is that by it’s very set-up, it takes the vampire film and sort of crosses it with aspects of a zombie movie, with small groups of people barricading themselves and hiding from these monsters, all while trying to stick out the 30 days of terror in front of them. I tend to think that Zombie movies have a real immediacy about them that at least for me makes them really compelling to watch, and 30 Days of Night has that in spades.

There’s a good cast at work here, with Josh Hartnett and Melissa George playing Eben and Stella, and they’re solid as rocks here, being our eyes into this world of terror that’s come into their town. The always good Ben Foster (who’s chameleon abilities transform him into something different in every movie he’s in- compare him here to The Angel who he plays in X-Men 3) is suitably creepy as a drifter who becomes the key to the vampires coming into town. But special note has to go to Danny Huston, son of the great John Huston, who plays the leader of this pack of vampires, who’s just absolutely terrific in his part. Huston’s been showing up in a lot of movies lately and he’s always a great addition to any cast, but here… here he really stands out.

If you’re in the mood for a great horror movie, then really look no further than 30 Days of Night because this one is something that’s really special and just a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Here’s another one that definitely moves into consideration for my own Top 10 of 2007. Obviously, highly recommended… don’t miss it…

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

23. October 2007 by Darren Goodhart
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