Written by Steve Niles and Stuart Beattie
and Brian Nelson
Directed by David Slade
Running Time: 1:53
for strong horror violence and language.
30 Days of Night was a pretty decent horror film that was visually stunning but had some very slow moments.
In the town of Barrow, Alaska, there comes a time of year where for 30 days the sun will not appear in the sky. The population of Barrow goes from over 500 to just over 100 as people flee for towns with sunlight. Those who remain are hardened folks who can brave the darkness. The town is essentially shut down with no way in or out until the sunlight returns. There is communication with the outside world... normally. But this year will be unlike any other they've survived. Vampires have descended on the town and are killing at will. Only a chosen few will survive the 30 days of darkness to see the light, again.
From the moment 30 Days of Night starts you can see it has a slightly different look than most films. Everything is extremely sharp and almost metallic in nature. If there's one thing the movie has going for it is that it looks really good. So at least from that perspective it's better than 95% of the horror/thrillers that come out these days. The vampires are very simple, with only elongated teeth, blackened eyeballs and long fingernails really separating them from everyone else. Well that and the amount of blood on them. And the way they kill their victims is brutal and often shown up close and personal. It's been a long since I've seen this many heads bitten/chopped off with tons of blood spurting here and there. It's not for the fainthearted, that's for sure. But it was all very well done, without any hint of it being a B-movie. The story was also pretty strong. They didn't give a lot of background on the vampires, but I didn't mind too much. It was simply a portion of a story and I was OK with that. And the ending was a little surprising as well (and sets up for a sequel). Heck, there could easily be a prequel as well. Everything from the top down is top notch. I also think this is one of those films I think would look great in high-definition.
As with a lot of horror films these days, there is some star appeal. Gone are the days when unknowns would populate these kinds of films. Granted, the bigger the name the more likely they are to live in the film, so it does take away a little bit of the thrill of playing 'who dies next?' but it is nice to see recognizable faces. Josh Hartnett takes the lead this time around and was surprisingly strong. They gave his character a very small backstory dealing with his wife (played by Melissa George) and their soon-to-be separation (until she is conveniently forced to remain in Barrow). I'm not the biggest Hartnett fan, but I enjoyed him in this role. He really took control of the situation and I could easily see him as someone the townspeople would look to in an emergency.
The biggest problem I had with the film was the pacing. It was a very, very slow burn with action sequences that would occur (and be very bloody) before settling back into a slow pace. I don't mind a film slowly getting into the flow but once it gets there, it becomes disorienting to keep slowing back down. I never could get completely into the film because every time I thought we were finally getting to a point, it would relax again. There was a sense of paranoia and fear that pervaded the entire film, but it wasn't ever at the point where every movement felt like something was going to happen. In other words, I wasn't on the edge of my sofa anticipating something would happen. There were only a couple of times when I was genuinely surprised at what happened. Most of the time I knew it was coming.
I also didn't understand what went on during the parts of the film we didn't see. The movie starts the day of the final sunset. The vampires attack and then we jump to day three. Then day seven. Then day 17. Then day 27. What went on during those middle days? Did the remaining townspeople really just sit there doing nothing? I can sort of understand that going on, but what concerns me more is what the vampires were doing. They managed to get rid of almost the entire town very quickly. So what did they do during the down time? How could they not sniff out the people who were still alive? There was no mention of them going anywhere else. But we never saw them eat after the initially killed someone. So did they just hang out playing poker? As much as I thought the film's pacing was slow, the jumps from one time period to another were strange and jarring.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall I enjoyed 30 Days of Night. I thought it could have been cut down a little and had a quicker pace, but all in all, it was a pretty solid horror flick. And would look fantastic in Blu-ray.
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