Despite an original setup, once you’ve seen one vampire movie, you’ve seen them all

30 Days of Night

on October 19, 2007 by Tim Cogshell

As most school-aged children know, there are places in the semi-detached state of Alaska where, for a month during the winter, the sun does not rise. This perfect circumstance for vampires, which one must admit is a clever notion (for those who concern themselves with nonsense about vampires), surprisingly has not previously been treated on film. It seems a little obvious, actually, which is perhaps why it hadn’t yet made its way into the ever-deepening archive of movies about the undead that reaches back to the birth of cinema (see F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu from 1922) and in fact seems to be eternal. But the notion did occur to the graphic-novelist team of writer Steve Niles and artist Ben Templesmith (artist).

Effectively written by Niles and developed by filmmakers who are fans of the material, including venerable producer Sam Raimi (who helmed the Spider-Man movies), the movie adaptation of 30 Days of Night is faithful to its source material. Still, this is no Sin City- or even 300-style translation. Indeed, realism is the goal of the producers, and to the extent that a sense of realism can be insinuated into any vampire movie, they have succeeded.

What they have been less successful at is developing an engaging movie—less a failure on the part of the filmmakers than a measure of a genre that is well-worn, despite the original ideas about how and where the vampires will be found. At the end of the day a vampire is a vampire—pale, fangs, tacky gothic outfits and lots of silly contemptuous vampire speak (here subtitled) about puny stupid humans with our ridiculous beating hearts, etc.

Here, a group of badly dressed vampires of origins unknown led by Danny Huston (The Kingdom) descend on the community of Barrow, Alaska, as the sun sets for 30 days to feed. Which they do, much to the chagrin of Sheriff Eben (Josh Hartnett), his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George) and a few other vampire snacks.

Gory in the extreme, something doesn't set right about all of the arbitrary beheadings, and much of this is also nonsensical. In fact only about five of the 30 Days of Night are actually accounted for, and, frankly, after you've seen one writhing, orgiastic vampire feeding, you've seen them all.

Distributor: Sony
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston and Ben Foster
Director: David Slade
Screenwriters: Steve Niles and Stuart Beattie and Brian Nelson
Producers: Robert Tapert and Sam Raimi
Genre: Horror
Rating: R for strong horror violence and language
Running time: 113 min.
Release date: October 19, 2007

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