30 Days of Night (2007) Review
Written by: azathoth
A nice vampire movie set in a very interesting location. The movie is set in Barrow, Alaska, which is located 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle on the northern tip of Alaska. A lot of discussion has been made about it not being 'night' for a straight month. However, each year the town experiences 60 days of the sun being below the horizon. 'Daytime' is a twilight condition, with only 3 hours of twilight on the winter solstice. So while there is no actual "30 days of night", it is pretty gloomy for a good period of time. The other problem with the scenario is that during this dark time, air transport still runs normally, except for inclement weather.
"30 Days" was directed by David Slade ("Hard Candy"). Josh Hartnett ("The Faculty", "Black Dahlia") plays Barrow's Sheriff Eben Oleson and Melissa George ("Turistas", "Amityville Horror (2005)") plays his estranged wife Stella. Danny Huston plays the chilling lead vampire Marlow. Mark Boone ("Dead Birds") plays the town's maintenance man Beau.
The film starts off on the last day of daylight with most of the population leaving on the last plane to sunnier locales. Stella gets into an accident with an ice/snow cutter. Think of a huge 20-foot long chainsaw attached to the front of a Caterpillar backhoe. Possible plot point? Yes; she misses the flight.
Strange things are happening around town. Everyone's cell and satellite phones are stolen, the local sled dogs are all killed, and the sole helicopter is wrecked. A short time later computer and phone service goes down. Amidst all this a Stranger shows up and causes a ruckus in the diner. Eben sagely connects all these events.
Once locked up, the Stranger starts gibbering Renfield-style about how They are coming and how They will blah blah blah. Soon screams and gunshots are heard and the citizens see some really odd people doing really odd things to their friends.
The movie now goes into overdrive for the next hour. The townsfolk try to survive while the vamps try to get some liquid dinner. Check the spoilers below for some more details.
Interestingly, the movie was shot mostly during the day and used a day-for-night effect to make it look like night. It was rather effective, though there are scenes where one may wonder why there are so little shadows in the middle of the night. The cinematography was good. The plot slows in spots, but not too badly. The acting was average overall, though I thought Hartnett brought a great bit of intensity to his character towards the end of the film. Huston is just plain freaky as Marlow. I still get chills from his "God? No God." line. I liked the direction. There are alternating scenes of action and jump scares with moody tension.
Sound was balanced nicely, except for the piercing vampire screams. The vampires looked great and very scary. FX were well done. If there was any CGI, I did not notice it.
There are lots of violence and gore. Throat biting, beheadings, bodies chopped in half, shotgun blasts to heads.
A very good vampire movie with a novel take on the genre. Points came off for some slow pacing and average acting. A must rent and likely a buy. This could be a good selection for a Halloween party movie marathon.
*** SPOILERS ***
The town is whittled down quickly at first, with the dozen or so survivors slowly being whittled away. The group needs to move occasionally, usually with one of them providing a decoy/sacrifice so the rest can get to the new location. The best of these involves Beau firing up the monster chainsaw (ah, remember that?) and takes it to the vamps, along with a shotgun. This is the best scene in the movie along with Eben punching through Marlow's head(!). Yes, Eben could actually do that because he purposefully infected himself so he could fight the vamps.
Also pay attention to the refinery's grinder shown in the beginning of the film. Much fun occurs with that later on. A lot of people had a problem with the vampire girl's death. I thought they handled the beheading of a little kid fairly well.
*** SPOILERS ***