’30 Days Of Night’ depicts a month of vampire terror
What with Halloween just around the corner (and one of Tahoe’s more extravagant happenings), I thought it might be nice to get into the spirit, if you will, on some of the movies opening with scary themes to them.
What could possibly be more horrific than vampires who get to stay out not just overnight but for weeks at a time? After seeing so many vampire flicks over the decades, this is probably one of the more intriguing stories I have come upon in recent memory. And, I might add, taken from that classic form of literature known as the graphic novel. OK, some folks still consider them comic books, but we know better.
Directed by David Slade (“Hard Candy”) and writer Steve Niles, “30 Days of Night” takes place in the isolated town of Barrow, Alaska, where once a year during the winter the sun disappears for a month. I don’t know why vampires didn’t get the word out earlier about this place, but their travel agent did right this time, even though one’s casket would need a safe place to remain untouched by mortals because of global warming.
Barrows is a buffet, actually, but once you feast there isn’t much left for the next winter, so here it’s first come first serve. That becomes the crux of the story, where renegade bloodsuckers headed up by the deadly Marlow (Danny Huston) are bent on consuming the entire town, and that means any living thing. What makes Marlow such a vicious vamp is his ability to communicate with his brethren in this eerie language that sounds like something from the old country (Transylvania) while communicating in English to his victims-to-be from the mortal world. He also taunts his victims before they’re killed with no hope of trying to negotiate their way out of being extinguished.
Be forewarned, this movie is not for the faint-of-heart or the squeamish. Unlike some recent PG-13 horror flicks designed to reach a wider audience, this R-rated flick pushes its rating standard to the limit with a frightening first half hour that sets up the tone that follows, and doesn’t let up until its climax.
As mentioned, these creatures are pretty darn scary, from their long nails and deformed features to unabridged carnage with no regard to the etiquette usually reserved for the classier vampires of movies past. These guys are quick, sloppy and gruesome.
The vampires are the stars of this movie and are perfectly depicted as the cold, bloodthirsty creatures of the night that had me on the edge of my seat and, at times, under it. No one is immune from the impending devastation, and all are subject for feasting, including not just the adults but children and animals, so if you get upset too easily, you’ll want to stay home.
There is hope, though albeit a very slim one, in the way of the husband-and-wife Sheriff team of Eben (Josh Hartnett) and Stella Oleson (Melissa George). They and a small band of survivors are all that stand between the obliteration of their town and the vampires. There’s a side story happening between Eben and Stella that tests their priorities, which in this case is just to survive. But unlike traditional vampire movies, where the terror subsides at daylight the following day, here that one ally isn’t available for at least a month.
Outside of the main characters, the supporting cast doesn’t have much to offer, and you don’t feel much for their fate. The vampires do the viewer a favor weeding out some of cast members, but I was kind of hoping most of them would have been gone in the first 30 minutes instead of waiting for the full 30 days.
— Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv comedy club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout northern California and Nevada, including Sirius Radio. He hosts “Howie’s Morning Rush” on Tahoe’s KRLT radio and you can see his film reviews on RSN.
Keepin’ it reel:
Now Playing: “30 Days of Night”
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster, Mark Boone Junior, Mark Rendall, Amber Sainsbury, Manu Bennett, Megan Franich and Joel Tobeck
Directed by: David Slade
Rated: R for strong horror violence and language
Running time: 114 minutes
Howie gives it: 3.5 out of 5 bagels