30 DAYS OF NIGHT
General Release 2007
113 minutes approx
Eban Oleson -
Stella Oleson -
The Stranger -
Directed by -
Written by -
Steve Niles, Stuart Beattie and Brian Nelson
The most northerly town in the whole of the United States lies in the arctic circle and every year the sun sets for thirty days. Many people can't cope with this and leave. Those that remain find themselves in a strange twilight existence. Eban, the sheriff, finds the last day filled with strange events. A pile of mobile phones are burned beyond use on the edge of town. The local sled dog breeder finds all his animals slaughtered. The only helicopter in town is damaged beyond repair and the electricity just went out. A stranger in town announces that death is approaching. And then the screaming starts.
A place where the sun doesn't appear for thirty days has got to be a vampire's paradise and so it's a neat idea to do just that, put the town under siege from a small army of bloodsuckers, but whilst the concept is neat, the development of the story is undeniably messy. The lead vampire announces that they have worked for centuries to hide their presence so why should they attack and destroy a whole town, something that will draw worldwide attention? What is their basic motivation anyway? If it's simply to feed then what do they do the rest of 11 months of the year? If they've been around for centuries why didn't they twig onto this much sooner? It's apparently important that the victims' heads are taken off their bodies, but it's never apparent why.
The vampires are visually impressive, subtle changes to faces rather than wholesale makeovers, but they lack any real personality, being mainly portrayed as intelligent animals and the use of a subtitled language further distances the audience from them.
Beyond the problems with vampire motivation, the film gets on with doing what it's supposed to do. The small, but significant build up of strange happenings (it's a mystery how so many barking dogs just get ignored) is faintly creepy and introduces the cast of future fodder. Josh Hartnett lacks real credibility as the sheriff/hero, but the lack of other big star names means that nobody is safe. The acting, though, is of good enough quality for the sense of fear to be palpable without being overly forced through screaming hysterics.
Then the shadowy figures start to appear and the first few people die. This is doesn't raise the creepy factor as it should and the gore count remains low (although the later graphic axe beheadings make the 15 certificate a bit questionable).
When the assault on the town begins, the film picks up, but immediately stalls itself with the survivors hiding out and doing nothing much for long periods of time with only a few action sequences thrown in. These tend to be quite good when they happen. The aerial tracking shot over the town in full on battle mode is impressively different, the little girl in the grocery store is a great scene, you know someone's going to go into the masher and the sheriff's ultimate solution all play well.
In the end analysis, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT is a great idea with only average realisation. There are fine moments and periods of dullness. It's not scary enough for the lovers of frighteners and not bloody enough for the gorehounds. It has all been done before and better. You won't, however, be sleeping through it.Top
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