30 Days of Night

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston Directed by: David Slade

Thanks to Twilight, True Blood, and perhaps even lingering effects of Interview With the Vampire, the pale undead are more sexy than scary, snuggly than snarly.  Able to contain their thirst, sparkle in the daylight, and flash their fangs to charm rather than chew…these vampires are nowhere to be found in 30 Days of Night.

Matching the harsh and wild winter of Barrow, Alaska, the pack of vampires roaming the frozen darkness is more animal than human.  Very few of them speak – mainly their leader Marlow (Danny Huston).  Mostly, they just stalk around with bloodstained chins, scream like tortured bats and attack humans with ravenous abandon.

The premise is simple – in the dead of winter, the sun won't rise in Barrow for a whole month because it is so far up north.  Quite a few people leave town, or at least intend to – including Sheriff Eben Oleson's estranged fire marshall wife Stella (Josh Hartnett and Melissa George, respectively), who has only been in town briefly due to a safety check she had to run in Barrow.

While Eben is out investigating a number of weird occurrences about town – cell phones destroyed, sled dogs murdered en masse, a helicopter vandalized and put out of commission – Stella misses her plane.  Other than a man (Ben Foster) appearing mysteriously in town, acting weird and speaking cryptically of the townsfolk never being able to escape 'them,' no one has a clue what's going on.

Soon enough it becomes clear the remaining citizens of Barrow are meant to be a month-long snack for the group of vampires that has swooped in.  It's never really clear how many vampires there are – perhaps 15-20ish, give or take – but nevertheless too many for the core group of humans to take on.  They have to make several moves throughout the month of darkness to get supplies, switch locations, and basically attempt to keep one step ahead of the vampires.

At nearly two hours, this movie felt like it took 30 days to watch.  Though there are some excellent action scenes – particularly one involving about six ways to kill vampires with a snowplow and ending with an explosion – it is pretty boring.  Visually, dark snowy streets get pretty dull.  Josh Harnett grows gross scraggly facial hair over the course of the movie.  Everyone mostly sits around in their parkas and tries to figure out how to outrun the vampires – not even destroy them, just outrun them to survive until sunrise.

If you:

  • Prefer the unfriendly vampire creature to the romantic ones
  • Like a movie that moves very slowly to highlight the tension of hiding and fear of discovery

Put it in the queue!

However, if you:

  • Are used to the human hero surrounded by vampire constantly working on some type of innovative way to slay the enemy (seriously – the odds were much worse in I Am Legend and he was always pottering around gathering samples, running experiments.  Even the kids in Fright Night did a little plotting and just didn't give the heck up.)
  • Like reading, and suspect perusing the original graphic novel might be both more expedient AND more enjoyable

Don't put it in the queue!

Written by Jennifer Venson