30 Days Of Night
directed by David SladeMost people would need a very good reason to live somewhere as cold and remote as Barrow, Alaska. The most northerly town of the American mainland is cut off every winter when most of the population heads south, because for 30 days the sun will not rise. But for a group of vampires, the darkness and the isolation are exactly what attracts them to Barrow.
The Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) has a series of odd crimes to investigate, starting with a pile of cell phones that were stolen and then found burnt. Then somebody slaughters all the dogs in the town. The last plane out has already left and Stella Oleson (Melissa George) misses it thanks to a road accident. The net is tightening around the remaining residents, but few of them realise what is going on.
30 Days Of Night doesn't waste time getting to the blood. And there is an awful lot of the red stuff. The vampires are supposedly extremely thirsty for it, but for all that they still end up wasting most of it, spilling blood on the floor and all down their faces. These are vampires that have more in common with zombies than anything else. They don't wash their faces, and they have a tendency to lurch around silently when they're not attacking people in a careless frenzy. It's only when their leader speaks that it becomes apparent they have any intelligence at all. Although their plans to trap the people of Barrow are carefully laid out, the creatures themselves don't appear to be very cunning.
As far as looks go, these undead favour the unkempt monster style. All of their teeth are pointed rather than just the canines, and they have long fingernails, pasty skin and totally black eyes. They wouldn't pass for human. Their messy habits and piercing screams complete the impression of a group of wild creatures, more animal than human.
A handful of survivors try to hide out in the hope of staying alive until daylight returns. You have to suspend disbelief a little, because the depiction of Arctic day and night isn't very realistic and doesn't take account of the long twilights in the far north. However tension mounts as the townspeople's situation becomes more desperate, and it becomes clear that the vampires do not intend to leave anyone alive. The humans become increasingly brutalised, as they find out what lengths they will go to in order to protect their families. Eben may be estranged from his wife Stella, for reasons they don't go into in much detail, but that doesn't mean he won't risk his neck for his family.
30 Days Of Night is basically a visceral hack-and-slash movie, full of screaming and fountains of blood. The vampires do look a little different from the norm, but they conform to most of the usual conventions, except perhaps the bit about classy dressing. It's a suspenseful film, but it doesn't add anything new to the vampire genre, nor does it contain much food for thought. It's good for enjoyable yet easily forgettable late-night terror, but this movie is no classic.
Review © Ros Jackson