Archive for movie review

30 Days of Night

Posted in All posts with tags , on October 23, 2007 by Trina


Barrow, Alaska. Dark. Cold. Isolated. Bleak. A chilling setting for one of the best bloodcurdling brutally portrayed vampire movies I’ve seen.

Harry asked me to go with him to see 30 DAYS OF NIGHT because he loves horror movies, and it is set in Barrow, the northernmost point in the US. Just for a reality check, he has a habit of looking up the temperature in Barrow during our relatively warm Raleigh winters.

David Slade directs this horror-on-ice from a graphic novel by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith. Barrow is 340 miles north of the Arctic Circle. With approximately 4,500 residents, the Barrow area is probably the harshest polar location in Alaska. The sun sets and doesn’t rise again for 30 days during winter. Though most of the residents of Barrow head south for the winter, some townspeople remain behind. However, those that stay regret their decision when, vampires descend on Barrow to feed. A dwindling band of survivors must try to last until dawn breaks over Barrow’s monthlong twilight.

Matt Zoller Seitz of the NY Times Review says, “30 DAYS OF NIGHT is a series of gory set pieces that seems to have been edited with a meat ax. A major early transition is so clumsy that you may assume that the projectionist accidentally skipped a reel. No such luck: it’s a style thing.” Seitz is right. It is a style thing and he just doesn’t get it.

Atmosphere — dark and chilling. The dark primeval fear captured by the barren snow covered terrain as the movie opens stays with you. If you love the atmosphere of the early horror movies, you will find that 30 DAYS OF NIGHT surpasses the classics in its brutally realistic depiction of the vampire. No tall dark stranger with fangs and a black coat, like the one created by the literary and cinematic portrayal of Count Dracula. If the creature responsible for the vampire legend were to come to your house this Halloween, you might open the door to a less than charming black-eyed creature with a bloody mouth full of teeth and a primal appetite. A creature like Marlow.

The leader of the vampire pack is Marlow, well acted by Danny Huston. Marlow is cruel and motivated only by his hunger for blood. Using only clicks and grunts, Huston makes Marlow graphically primeval. Wearing clothing designed more for a nightclub than the bitter cold, using cunning and military precision, and with apparently no conscience or soul, these creatures suck the town dry, human by human.

Holed up in the attic of a desolate house that was once a home is a cross section of survivors led by Josh Hartnett as the town sheriff and Melissa George as his estranged wife, a fire marshal. Both roles were well acted. While we know that the couple were headed for divorce and are now forced to rely on each other for their very lives, we aren’t privy to the reason for their split. The sexual chemistry between the two is enough.

30 DAYS OF NIGHT doesn’t romanticize the harsh environs, nor is it so ugly you don’t want to spend two hours there. We get just enough information, a touch of gallows humor, and plenty of white-knuckle suspense and massively gory and unflinching horror. I will concede there are a few logic-leaps required. For example the white-out snow does not cover the bloody gore remaining on the ground throughout the movie. But what horror movie doesn’t make us suspend disbelief. My only real criticism of the movie is that I found the ending both unsatisfying and unbelievable. I expected the minor characters to be picked off one by one, but I did not expect or appreciate what I got.

I don’t remember his exact words, but toward the end of the movie Marlow said something like, “It took us three centuries to make them think we are the stuff of nightmares.” 30 DAYS OF NIGHT does a good job of bringing the nightmare to the large screen.