30 Days of Night (2007)

Welcome to the first post in a little project I'm participating in. For some of you reading this, you've been doing this for seven years now. This particular blog was set up specifically for the October Horror Movie Challenge. The goal is to watch, and review, 31 horror films throughout October, with at least 16 being ones we have not seen before. I'm hoping to make the majority of films ones that are new to me, with some of the ones I'm viewing a second time being practically new as I may not have seen them in 15 to 20 years.

Just a warning for this review and upcoming reviews: I throw spoilers out all the time, since I expect most people have seen the films. Just don't want to hear any complaints down the line.

So, we start off the month with the vampire flick 30 Days of Night. Barrow, Alaska, is a small town in northern Alaska that goes for a month without sunlight in the winter, and a group of nomadic vampires decides it's the perfect time to show up and see what's on the menu.

To get things prepared the vampires have sent their very own Renfield in the form of The Stranger (Ben Foster), who takes care of some minor details like stealing (and burning) all the cellphones he can find in town and killing an entire kennel of sled dogs. Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) is not too amused, and quickly locks him up. However, as night falls, the vamps finish the job, knocking out the satellite connection and putting the power plant out of commission. Now that no one can call for help or leave, it's feeding time, and they are quickly on a bloody rampage.

At this point it becomes largely a typical survive the cabin until daylight type of affair, only daylight is a month away and they have to keep moving cabins, with the ultimate goal being the utilidor, an industrial complex that still has power and is defensible against the vampires.

As can be expected, the sheriff has some problems. His estranged wife Stella (Melissa George) and his brother Jake (Mark Rendall) are in need of protecting, as well as what is left of the town. Oh, and did I mention Eben also has chronic asthma? You just know that's going to pop up at an inopportune time.

The movie, for a modern horror film, is rather well done. There really aren't any scares, but it strikes me that the town would be creepy enough during its dark month without vampires feeding. The vampires are also great; they are killing machines, speaking their own language and quite alien from the human beings they once were. They are predators, plain and simple.

The major problems? The head vampire, Marlow (Danny Huston), clearly says not to turn anyone, but clearly his clan do not listen very well. Why even mention it? Also, the romantic subplot between Eben and Stella never really goes anywhere, and when he finally does have his asthma attack it is to no dramatic effect. It's as if - come to think of it, there's not really any as if. It's just an extraneous attempt at character building.

Finally, the worst part is Josh Hartnett's acting. Think Keanu Reeves with Mark Hamill thrown in. It wouldn't be so noticeable (it is a horror film, after all, and usually such things can be excused) if everyone else in the film wasn't doing such a great job, even if it was largely in a made-up language.

In the end, it is an enjoyable film and surprisingly bloody when considering how tame most R-rated films are these days.

30 Days of Night (2007)
Time: 113 minutes

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston

Director: David Slade


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