Monday, April 6, 2009
30 Days of Night
Wow. I just caught this one on cable; I had heard about it but never paid any attention, I'm not the world's biggest horror fan and it didn't seem like my cup of tea. I'll say it again, wow. To begin with, I had know idea this was a comic book movie until I saw the IDW logo at the beginning. The series began as a simple three-issue run, but became rather successful spawning several more titles.
The movie takes place in the small town of Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost territory of the United States. It's geography also means that every year the place receives thirty days of night...perfect if you're a vampire. It sounds cheesy enough, sure, but it was solidly done on every level.
Josh Hartnett portrays his character flawlessly and handles his many layers without missing a beat. As the small town sheriff, he has his hands full as no less than 15-20 vampires begin to ransack, and subsequently slaughter, the helpless town. The gore is plentiful, but not overly done, about right for what you would imagine when vampires rip people apart. The scares aren't "pop out at ya and make you jump", but more just plain eerie. Several scenes with vampires, out of focus, stalking people from snow-covered rooftops were nice and spooky. One overhead pan of the town during full melee was simply breathtaking.
Much like the formula for a zombie film, the survivors of the town band together and try to stay hidden from the vampires while simultaneously trying to keep their own infighting down to boot. Tensions run high as survivors begin to lose their cool, and each other. The vampires themselves are of a European bent, speaking some form of ancient dialect which ended up being subtitled throughout. Their features were oddly deformed making for more pronounced brow ridges and noses, lending them an otherworldly and wholly unnatural look. Their leader spoke somewhat philosophically at times as well about his kind and their place in the world.
Seeing how the film came out two years ago, I don't feel the need to keep the ending secret, although for me it was a nice surprise not knowing going into it. As I mentioned, Hartnett did a great job with his character, especially his slow descent into despair and fatigue as the events kept wearing him down. In the end he willingly infects himself with tainted blood so he would have the power to take the vampires head on for the final confrontation. I'm a sucker for zombie formula movies (if not the zombies themselves), I like vampires if they're done right and not as aristocrats or rock stars, and anything in a polar setting is a step ahead in my book. This movie delivers in all the right places and is worth going out of your way to catch if you haven't so far.