30 Days of Night Review
Written by: Constantce
Not since Nosferatu has the vampire been so brutal, so frightening, so not-beddable. The theme of “30 Days of Night” seems to be that the vampire is scary again. No Count Chocula here. No foo-foo metrosexual bloodsucker in a long coat. These vampires are creepy as all get go with contorted facial features, wickedly pointed teeth, and a language that consists of squeals and shrieks, save the few words spoken by Marlow, translated from what seemed to be Russian, in subtitles. In case you forget your high school reading, Marlow happens to be the name of the man who follows Captain Kurtz down the river into the Heart of Darkness. Interesting choice of name, but I really don’t want to get into that kind of literary analysis here.
The premise is so brilliant that it makes you smack yourself upside the head and say “why didn’t I think of that?” A night that lasts thirty days, as in Alaska, is a great refuge for vampires. The opening scenes, people preparing for the dusk, definitely set the tone. It’s a small town, and it’s getting smaller. People don’t like to stick around, Stella (Melissa George), Eben’s (Josh Hartnett) estranged wife included. Of course her plans are screwed up and she’s trapped. This is when things start to get hairy, acts of vandalism, the appearance of a crazy stranger, and quickly things escalate. As the last of the light dies, you know you are in for a wild ride.
The vampires are deformed and frightening, but they are still pretty cool -- cool in a Michael Myers way rather than a Lestat way. They move quick as hell and feed like ravenous beasts. And they could care less about the blood on their faces. Actually, they reminded me a little of the kid in the Pizza Hut commercial who is anxious for his Oreo beard to grow thicker. That’s a hokey reference, but there were at least a handful of hokey moments in the movie. Through the beginning, as characters were introduced, I found myself whispering “goner, goner, goner” as they gave sappy back stories. The non-vampire “stranger” came across as unintentionally comic. So did a monologue by a changing character, who went on for more than a little too long, the camera dramatically circling his head. For the most part, though, I jumped and gasped far more often than I laughed, and that’s good enough for me.
I found myself watching Hartnett closely, prepared NOT to like him, but as he reacted to the bizarre circumstances, I said to myself, “I don’t mind him in this.” That’s how I felt on a whole about the acting, that it was good enough to get by, but nothing exceptional.
I know that I named a lot of negatives, but I truly enjoyed this movie. The actors didn’t put in Oscar worthy performances (not that the Acadamy watches horror movies anyway), but they were likeable enough to sustain the story. The vampires were more like monsters than any I’d seen in a long time. There was a respectable amount of gore, and a couple of scenes that pushed the violence envelope. The plot was easy to follow but not too predictable, even if you have read the graphic novel.
This may not be a rave review, it is a high recommendation. If for no other reason, see this movie to spend a couple of quality hours with some truly spine-chilling vampires.