30 Days of Night

  • 2007-11-21
  • by Tim Ochser

TASTY: Blood-sucking vampires can be a particular problem during the long, dark Alaskan winters, as this film points out.

Director: David Slade

Maybe it's just the onset of the bleak Baltic winter but I thoroughly enjoyed "30 Days of Night," a rather strange and brutal horror movie that takes place during a month of total darkness in a small and remote Alaskan town.
The town is overrun by a group of vampires who want to take advantage of the month-long break from the sun for, as we all know, vampires don't like sunlight. And they certainly take advantage of it. Within a few days, the snow-covered streets are littered with the corpses of the town's residents and stained with their blood.

Eben Olseson (Josh Hartnett) is the town sheriff. From his furrowed brow and brooding eyes we see he is a troubled man. It turns out that his wife Stella (Melissa George), from whom he is separated, is in town having missed the last plane out of there for the next month.
Eben hides out from the vampires along with his wife Stella, younger brother and a few other characters. His plan of action is to stay alive for the next 30 days until the sunlight returns and the vampires are forced to move on.

That's about the gist of the story. The few survivors creep around the town looking for food, while the vampires roam around looking for any remaining fresh meat.
"30 Days of Night" is clearly inspired by "28 Days Later" in its gritty look and tense camerawork. It's nowhere near as good but it is still a decent movie in its own right that infuses the vampire genre with some much-needed fresh blood.
The vampires make a haunting spectacle with their black eyes and blank expressions. They speak in some sort of mythical-sounding language (I think) which is particularly abundant in sibilant consonants. Or perhaps they're just talking in Romanian.

The story's total implausibility doesn't much matter. Director David Slade uses the extreme environment of the far north to create a compelling scenario in which humans are hunted by hellish creatures in their likeness. The relentless darkness and deserted small town setting gives "30 Days of Night" a strange, nightmarish quality that makes you forget all about the poor acting and trite dialogue.

Vampires make for fascinating subject matter, symbolizing as they do our predatory animal natures. The vampires in "30 Days of Night" are by far the best thing about the movie and at times seem more convincing than the characters they're hunting.
Opens in Estonia and Latvia on Nov. 23.

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