30 Days Of Night (2007)

DVD Cover (Ghost House Pictures)
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Ranked #817
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Connections: 30 Days Of Night

This is the story of an isolated Alaskan town that is plunged into darkness for a month each year when the sun sinks below the horizon. As the last rays of light fade, the town is attacked by a bloodthirsty gang of vampires bent on an uninterrupted orgy of destruction. Only the small town's husband-and-wife Sheriff team stand between the survivors and certain destruction. --IMDb
Josh Hartnett
Josh Hartnett
Melissa George
Melissa George
Danny Huston
Danny Huston
Ben Foster
Ben Foster
Mark Boone Junior
Mark Boone Junior
Review by bluemeanie
Added: October 20, 2007
When was the last time you saw a decent vampire flick? You're probably going to be thinking back a long ways because there hasn't been one in years - several years. "30 Days of Night" was supposed to change all that. It was supposed to be the best vampire flick of the decade - one of the scariest films of the year, and one of the scariest vampire films ever made. It could have been. If they would have stuck with what worked in the film, it could have been. Instead, producer Sam Raimi delivers yet another disappointing picture from his Ghost House Pictures, which needs to find better scripts and better executions if they expect to capitalize on their founder's good-standing name in the horror genre. I will say this - "30 Days of Night" is not all bad. And, it might be one of the best Ghost House Pictures releases yet. While I was sitting and watching the film, something very profound occurred to me - Halloween is dead, cinema wise. There hasn't been an event film to be released in October for years - not like they used to be. October is now synonymous with films like "Saw" and Japanese horror remakes like "The Grudge". When was the last time a studio trusted the horror audience enough to give them something tangible come Halloween?

When you're a vampire, the best place in the world just might be Barrow, Alaska (which, as the title card at the beginning of the film indicates is the Northernmost city in the United States). The film begins just as the small town is about to descend into 30 days of total darkness. Josh Hartnett stars as Eben Oleson, the town sheriff, who starts to suspect some strange 'happenings' when he finds a yard full of dogs massacred and a severed head on a pike. Yeah, those be strange happenings. The rest of the town is getting slashed and dashed whilst he makes these discoveries. A group of townsfolk band together, including Eben's little brother Jake (Mark Rendall), his wife Stella (Melissa George) and a crazy old guy with a plow (Mark Boone Junior), amongst others. The goal is to last out the 30 days until the sun once again rises. Oh, I forgot to mention - the town is being mercilessly slaughtered by a clan of vampires, led by Marlow (Danny Huston). These vampires ain't yer grandpappy's bloodsuckers. They have eyes as black as pitch, teeth that would make "Jaws" look the other way and a language that sounds like a cross between Swahili and Wookie. They also don't die very easily unless, of course, you whack off their heads. Then they die. Most of the film is the group of townsfolk finding new and more exciting hiding places as the vampires wait outside and occasionally send out live Barrow residents to serve as bait for any possible survivors.

Let's start with what works, since that will be quicker. The vampires. If this was just a film about the vampires, it might be the best vampire film of the decade. The first thing they did that was super smart was casting a real, honest-to-god actor to play the lead vampire, and that actor comes in the form of the amazing Danny Huston, who has been so great in films like "Birth" and "Children of Men" and "The Proposition". He has an over zealous sinister quality about his performance that makes him one of the scariest on screen blood suckers of all time. He also makes it far more than just a typical vampire film by channeling some true fright. I loved how ruthless these vampires were and I love how director David Slade went head-on for the R-rating. The blood effects were nice and some of the death scenes were really memorable, even the one that had most of the audience unsure of what to think - involving a little girl turned into a vampire. Like I said, had this film been just about vampires, it would have rocked my world. I also want to point out Ben Foster, who always steals any film he is in, and that includes this one. He plays a stranger who wanders into town, after helping the vampires to cut off all forms of communication to the town. He's supposed to be a modernized version of Renfield, I suppose, but he is written to be like the old guy who walks around saying, "You're doomed! You're all doomed!" Either way, he plays the role the same way he plays all of his roles - with immense talent and above average skill.

Now, for the bad. Everything but the vampires. The script is paper thin, at best, and is about as plausible as a pecan encrusted turd falling from the sky and turning into a bar of gold. There is this whole sub-plot involving Hartnett and George and why their marriage ended, but never once do we care about their relationship. Maybe that's because Josh Hartnett is one of the least charismatic actors working in Hollywood today. He's ice cold in everything he does and even his voice sounds like it doesn't want to be in his body, though what a fine body it is. And then there's the character of the little brother. How many times are we supposed to be made to think this kid is dead? When you get two passes in a film, you know you're not going to get the axe. And why is it - when someone other than the core characters walk outside, they are immediately under siege from packs of the damned things, but when Josh Hartnett or Melissa George scurry across the street, they aren't even noticed? Are they that stealthy? And how about how the rest of the group keep disappearing and popping up at the place where everyone knows they're going to be? And, if that doesn't take the cake - what is with that ending? For starters, dead blood doesn't work for transforming a person into a vampire. Secondly, how in the hell does Hartnett transform so quickly and immediately become as powerful as a vampire who has been around as long as Marlow? And, lastly - the performances. None of them are special. As mentioned before, Josh Hartnett is awful. Melissa George is just as bad. Danny Huston is the best part of the whole damned film.

All of that said, "30 Days of Night" was a huge disappointment for someone who was hoping it might help to bring back some of that Halloween spirit the multiplexes have been missing for a few years now in October. It looked creative from the trailer and some of the reviews had been so glowing - I just assumed it might be above average. Boy, was I wrong. What is even worse is that they had a good thing there, with the vampires. These were scary vampires, and that's something we haven't seen since Tom Cruise turned Lestat into a fanciful gentleman. These were vampires you didn't want to mess with, because they don't turn you into one of them - they just eat you. Director David Slade has talent as a filmmaker. I enjoyed his debut, "Hard Candy", quite a bit and thought it was very well executed. "30 Days of Night" is a little out of his league. It might have been better off in the hands of a more skilled horror craftsman. Maybe someone else would have paid more attention to the real stars of the film - the ones doing the sucking of the blood, instead of sticking with Josh Hartnett, the one doing the sucking of the soul. "30 Days of Night" isn't one of the worst horror films of the year - but it's certainly one of the most disappointing.

Review by Mr. Mistoffelees
Added: April 10, 2008
When I had seen the commercials for this movie, I had really intended on seeing it. It was practically the one movie I wanted to see before the year ended. Vampire movies have always been something of a hit or miss for me; that is, even if the idea of the movie is good, or the film itself begins well, it usually takes a turn into disappointmentville before the end. The one movie I can remember as the pinnacle of vampire films both for its acting and direction was Interview with a Vampire, a solid movie if you haven't seen it yet. However, the idea of this one, the cold darkness where immortal creatures ruled without end, really drew me in. Finally having seen it as part of a celebration of my birthday, I can really say it delivered.

Barrow, Alaska is your usual small town type of place where everyone apparently loves snow, otherwise they wouldn't remain basically trapped in the desolate tundra for 30 days while the sun goes down. Josh Hartnett stars as sheriff of the town Eben Oleson, who is overall a good guy who just wants his town safe and happy. Stella Oleson (Melissa George) co-stars as his wife, but we never get the sense that they were happy together. There's definite love, but she basically tries to hightail it out of there before the airport closes. While she is trying to leave, some strange things begin to happen. The entire town's cellphones have been stolen and burned in a pit, some weird guy (Ben Foster) shows up talking about raw meat and whiskey, and then the lights go out. What the town soon realizes, and all too late, is that a group of terrifying beings have come into the town with the sole intention of feasting upon every last one of them.

Now, we all know the drill on vampires. Stakes, garlic, crosses, sunlight, some say silver (thought that was for werewolves), the list goes on and on. In this universe, however, these creatures are truly immortal save for sunlight and decapitation (thought that was for zombies). This different take on vamp weaknesses adds a whole new element to that subgenre of horror. Combine that with the fact that the creatures are more beast than human (unlike Underworld) and you have a much more terrifying foe. Throughout the movie you will see some pretty gory scenes, scenes that while not as graphic as some torture movies are realistic enough that you will definitely cringe at certain parts. I know I did, and I don't cringe easily.

The second element making this movie work well is the acting. I know, I know, every positive review will say the same about the acting (usually), but I have to say it here. Hartnett and George do well in their roles as husband and wife with a rift between them, but I never really got the feeling that they were meant to be together anyway. They each held their own as their parts, as well as pretty much everyone else in the film, but in terms of actual chemistry there was little. A plus for a movie of this type is that it didn't go the "stupid teenagers/naive family/lovable idiots" route and have maybe one or two intelligent people surviving by sheer common sense. These people did what they could with what they had, made little to no idiotic moves, and only survived as long as luck and strategy held out. The actors that truly made the movie, however, were the vampires. These people must have loved their roles or vampires because I could say that they looked scary, bloody, believable, bestial, and truly formidable. I really felt like the townspeople were threatened and could die at any moment.

I had read the source material for the movie the day before I watched it, and I can say that about 85% of the graphic novel was accurately adapted for the silver screen. I consider this a plus for movies to do justice to the source material, because it can be very difficult to translate across mediums. Niles and Beattie do a fantastic job of keeping to the novel almost entirely, only changing some small details or adding others for fun. If you're a fan of graphic novels, and this one in particular, you'll know that Niles wrote the series from the ground up with artist Ben Temp lesmith, and because of that we can see that his hand was in it for most of the way. Aside from a few tweaks and changes, this one stayed very similar.

Overall I felt that this movie was highly entertaining, both for the gore hounds and those who like a movie to start slow and build up to violence and suspense. The acting was decent to great, the atmosphere was fitting and suiting, and the end was something that doesn't come often in movies. I won't spoil anything, but it wasn't the happy-go-luck grab-ass fest that many horror movies have.

Tristan #1: Tristan - added 10/20/2007, 03:04 PM
Goddammit. I'm going to see this in about 45 minutes. I hope this is just another one of those times where I completely disagree with you.
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 10/20/2007, 09:06 PM
I didn't love it, but it was certainly worth seeing once. It stayed close to the source material, so I have to be pleased with that. But as far as the performances and such go, it wasn't too great. There were a lot of holes, and it got pretty repetitive after awhile. Still, there were a few good kill scenes, and a few genuinely creepy parts. 6/10
Ginose #3: Ginose - added 10/21/2007, 03:29 PM
I agree with Billy Ray in whole... but I'm going to mark it down another point for, quite possibly, the most cliched line of all time: "I'm done playing with this one. Wanna play with me?"
Tristan #4: Tristan - added 10/22/2007, 11:35 AM
To be honest, the more I think about the movie, the more annoyed I get. And for all it's high points, it's shortcomings outweighed them.
bluemeanie #5: bluemeanie - added 10/22/2007, 04:02 PM
I forgot all about that horrible line! Yes, how AWFUL was that?
Edd #6: Edd - added 10/22/2007, 04:03 PM
The comic book series was horrible, and I didn't expect this movie to suddenly make it good. 3/10
Ginose #7: Ginose - added 10/22/2007, 06:06 PM
I've never read the comic, but I was all ready to before watching this fucking garbage. I'll give it a 3.5/10 at worst and a 5/10 at best... by at best I mean if you could actually go in and censor out that fucking terrible line... God... I actually applauded when that little girl died. Something inside of me said that it was the right thing to do.
Tristan #8: Tristan - added 10/22/2007, 06:11 PM
When the little girl said that line, even my girlfriend said "What the fuck was the point of that?" Three cheers to that girl dying, and three cheers to the girl who eats my ass.
bluemeanie #9: bluemeanie - added 10/25/2007, 06:03 PM
Watch it. This is a family site.
Tristan #10: Tristan - added 10/25/2007, 06:12 PM
This is about as much a family site as Rotten.com.
Ginose #11: Ginose - added 10/25/2007, 06:15 PM
Hey! Rotten got me through highschool anatomy. I advise it to any child...

...and WeLiveTogether.com isn't an uncommon suggestion either.
bluemeanie #12: bluemeanie - added 10/25/2007, 06:36 PM
I would encourage any young child to visit this site and learn. I am sure Chris Hansen will be hiding in the shadows.
Chad #13: Chad - added 10/25/2007, 06:38 PM
They should definitely start with Killer Pussy; if that doesn't show them the ways of the world, nothing will.
Tristan #14: Tristan - added 10/25/2007, 06:57 PM
"Hello, I'm Chris Hansen. So you came here for sexxxxxx"
That man's voice is so deep and intimidating. Ant does the best impression of it, I must say.
grain of sand #15: grain of sand - added 10/29/2007, 09:12 PM
I loved this actually, I had no expectations for it, I just walked in and saw it and loved it.. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face during that axe beheading that took a little work and that awesome part where he fucks up his hand right before it..
I can see why a lot of people would dislike this, but for a 2 hour movie it flew by fast, and I enjoyed the gore so much that it outweighed the cheesy lines, josh hartnett, and too quick of camera work..
C L #16: C L - added 04/22/2008, 09:06 PM
I was really pumped for this movie when I started seeing previews, because I'm a big comics geek, and the comic of this is one of my favorites, and pretty much anything Steve Niles writes is good stuff . Due to circumstances beyond my control I wasn't able to see this when it was in theaters, however thanks to the wonders of bit torrent I finally got around to it this past weekend. As I've stated I had high expectations and I was only slightly disappointed. It looked fantastic! It looks exactly like the comic. The vampires were perfect, town perfect, blood etc...It wasn't watered down or sugar-coated, so if I wasn't so familiar with the source material I would give this a higher rating,however...I find it difficult to understand why the producers of this film didn't just use the graphic novel as storyboards for the film. They changed a lot of things that I , as a fan found disappointing. But the biggest change, which makes zero sense to me, is that Eben and Stella aren't supposed to be separated when the story begins, they are madly,happily in love. In spite of some flaws , I liked this movie a lot. 7.5/10
bradbunson #17: bradbunson - added 04/29/2008, 11:27 PM
Just watched this 4 days ago. Had no expectations but I was glad I actually watched it. Good gore, pretty good plot but had too many holes, and finally the movie had a bad guy that i actually cheered for.
Crispy #18: Crispy - added 05/22/2009, 02:40 AM
Meh / 10
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