30 Days of Night

30 Days of Night

(2008)
Sam Raimi (serving as producer here) returns to his bloodthirsty roots with this NZ-shot, Alaskan-set vampire movie starring Josh Hartnett and directed by David Slade who made the attention-grabbing 'Hard Candy'.

Based on a series of graphic novels, the story centers around the height of winter in northern Alaska when the sun doesn’t rise for a month. ‘Tis a bitter time and most locals split town. This winter a gang of pale faced vampires show their hideous selves, making the most of the darkness. They slaughter the community leaving only a handful of folk alive including the Sheriff and his wife (George). They try to deal with the rather large issue, and try to stay alive until the sun comes up.

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Flicks Review

30 Days of Night is not scary; nor is it compelling. It has some cardboard characters and some incoherent editing. Still interested?

A good concept involves a band of vampires migrating to an Alaskan town to enjoy the 30-day darkness of a northern winter, and feeding on the handful of hardy residents that live there. Filmed on a soundstage in West Auckland, the Alaskan snow-covered town feels scarily claustrophobic. The graphic novel origins are clearly referenced and the visual effects are very good. Throw in some attractive lighting and you have a good-looking film.

It's a shame, then, that the vampires are a bit iffy. They speak in some ancient language, and cry out to each other in piercingly high-pitched wailings. And while their strange black eyes and emaciated faces are disturbing, their leader (Danny Huston) looks like he just finished a shift at the office. His babblings about prophecies are just waffling nonsense; filler for the sake of giving the bad guys some screen time.

The editing is ridiculously frantic, relegating the action scenes as incoherent. There's plenty of movement on screen, but certainly no way of knowing what in the hell is going on. Just sit back and assume it's a vampire attacking a human; that's what's happening most of the time.

Josh Harnett, sadly, doesn't do very well as the leading man. He's as flat as a pancake; as bleak and frigid as the landscape around him. This is the personality of someone with depression, and I wonder if the setting of dark rural Alaska is synonymous with the despair of the mind. His interaction with the ex-girlfriend (Melissa George) is annoying, especially the airing of relationship issues in the middle of a vampire attack.

The real problem with 30 Days is that there's simply nothing to make us care about what happens to these characters. And even if the point was to just make a shlocky B-grade horror, populated with disposable people, the film just isn't fun enough. It's a bit hard to engage with such a story when it's so full of drab clichés such as the ol' vampire-kid that needs to be killed.

Some good gore (a brilliant beheading, in particular) and an inventive visual style definitely help 30 Days stand out, but everything else is as blank as a snowdrift.


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 1 ratings, 1 reviews
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Incorrect. A valid attempt but didn't satisfy my cravings for suspense + gore + believability.


The Press Reviews

51% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • BBC

    A vampire thriller with a deep, easy command of the genre, a very strong stomach as far as gore goes, and an inspired setting. Full Review

  • At almost two hours, the premise outstays its welcome by about 20 minutes and its climax will only appease those who enjoy elongated Captain Kirk-style wrestling matches. The plot also raises more questions than answers. How come the sheriff gets asthma halfway through the movie? And how do they know how many nights until the next sunrise when there are no visible clocks, no-one seems to wear a watch and the light never changes? Full Review

  • [Director] Slade is clearly of the opinion that more is more, so there is lots of blood, lots of gore, and lots of vampires in black coats standing around as if auditioning for a remake of the Michael Jackson Thriller video. Full Review

  • A failed attempt at making a high-brow vampire flick, but good fun anyway. Full Review

  • Excels at bloodthirsty action, though dialogue and human-interest aspects are a tad anemic. Result is a mixed bag but has a catchy premise and quite enough splatter to satisfy gorehounds. Full Review