30 Days of Night – horror movie review
30 Days of Night is a 2007 horror film starring Josh Hartnett and the current Queen of Scream Melissa George. Since leaving Summer Bay the poor girl has faced almost continual mortal peril! She’s been in a lot of horror films basically. But she did get to shag Ryan Reynolds in The Amityville Horror so…….swings and roundabouts.
So anyway, 30 Days of Night is directed by David Slade (Hard Candy, Hannibal) and based on a graphic novel by Steven Niles. It tells the story of a small, isolated Alaskan town that is pounced upon by a group of ancient and blood-thirsty vampires. Hartnett and George star as two police officers (also going through a divorce!) trying to lead their friends and neighbours to safety.
Barrow in Alaska – where the movie is set – is so far north that during winter the sun doesn’t rise for a month. As well as being a bit miserable (I would be so fucking miserable), this makes for rather a sticky situation when the vampires turn up. I mean, sunlight is generally looked upon favourably when dealing with the undead – especially when you live on the edge of the earth with no means of escape. The premise of 30 Days of Night is pretty simple – survive the month and beat the vampires – but it is delivered well.
It’s a similar plot to Swedish film Frostbiten (2006) but whilst that was more of a comical movie, 30 Days of Night was pleasantly surprising with its darkness and brutality. After all, vampires are often viewed on screen as sexy, civilised or even mildly glittery. In 30 Days of Night they are dangerous predators – powerful, ruthless and not afraid to use their nails. They are human-ish of course, in the way they walk on two legs and have eyes, ears and a nose. But that’s where the similarities end.
I enjoyed 30 Days of Night a lot. I first saw it in the cinema but I’ve watched it since on DVD and still think it’s one of the better vampire flicks I’ve seen. It does have some flaws of course – and something of absolute fucking hilarity that I cannot wait to share with you, but generally I thought it was a pretty good film. It’s clear that it was based on a graphic novel – the atmosphere and use of colour, the dramatic, sinister score written by Brian Reitzell and the ever-so-slightly arty bits – it just has that graphic novel feeling – apologies, I’m not very good at ‘technical talk’ sometimes. But I know what I mean. Hopefully you do too?
The film is very gory, with plenty of blood and death to rejoice in. YAY! The vampires are chilling to look at – dark eyes, white skin – and they make screechy animal noises – shiver. They are notably cruel as well – imagine how a cat plays with a mouse before killing it and you’ll know what I mean. I enjoyed it for the pure horror that it was, rather than a lot of the vampire stuff we’re used to where it’s all “let’s be friends and/or have sex with each other” and “ahhh you guys!”
It was probably a tad too long at 113 minutes. I know, I know, I always say it but 100 minutes would have been just fine and dandy. Unfortunately I did also feel that the gripping ’30 Days of Night’ concept was rather redundant – as really, all events could have happened in a couple of days – nothing really made me think – or believe – that the film was set over a few weeks. I don’t think Josh Hartnett even grew much of a beard. Which was devastating.
My only other minor moan is a slight lack of personality. I know it’s not really that sort of film but I do like good characters and maybe a funny line or two, but 30 Days of Night is played very STRAIGHT and for that reason the characters and relationships aren’t that memorable. I also didn’t love the ending but that’s a personal thing.
Now – for the little something of absolute fucking hilarity: the Leader of the Vampires (Danny Huston) looks EXACTLY like Neil Tennant from the Pet Shops Boys. That’s pretty much it. I mean, he was supposed to be terrifying. But everything, EVERYTHING about him – even his long black coat – screamed “I’m Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys” – talk about disconcerting! And hilarious.