Sunday, October 21, 2007

30 Days of Night (2007)

Note: This review was originally posted on Myspace. I am reposting it here for archival purposes. It has been backdated to the date of its original posting.

A roving colony of vampires invades the solitary town of Barrow, Alaska, during it's annual period of 30 days of darkness. On the day of the last sunset for a month, preparations are made. Cell phones are stolen and burned. Every last sled dog is butchered. The only helicopter in town is junked. The townspeople are trapped for the month. The Sheriff doesn't know just what's going on yet, but it doesn't look good. Soon, the power is cut, the phone lines dead. People start disappearing, then some of them turn up brutally murdered. Then all hell breaks loose. Will anyone survive the vampires' 30 day fiesta? A truly great plot for a horror film. And 30 Days of Night delivers.

The vampires were really cool. They looked creepy, but also believable. They also had a bit of an international look, which solidified the idea that these vampires were probably culled from all sorts of civilizations throughout the globe, and throughout time. Their language was an impressive addition to the experience. Guttural, even orcish in nature. But it sure beat having the vampires speaking normal English.

The human characters were also interesting. Many of them had endearing backstories which enhanced their contribution to the plot, and upped the emotional ante. The story focuses on the ruined but possibly rekindling relationship between the two human leads (sheriff and girlie). Ultimately destined to end in tragedy.

I really liked the vampire leader. He was intelligent, and philosophical as well, in his own vampiric fashion. I also like the way the sheriff managed to inadvertently present himself to the vampires. He ends up decapitating one of the converts, and the vampires find the body, and examine it, and you can tell they're probably thinking, "there's somebody here who knows how to fight us." The scene with the UV lamp of course enhances that impression. And then there's the final brawl.

Cool scenes: when the vampire chick gets sunburned, ruining her "beautiful" face, and the vampire leader says "what can be broken, must be broken" before he presumably destroys her. Also, after the dynamite explosion, when the vampire leader, instead of getting pissed off, calmy explains, "when man meets something he cannot destroy, he destroys himself instead." Also, I have to give the movie kudos for not shying away from killing off a little girl (converted, of course).

The finale was exceptional, right down to the last moment. Overall, the movie was consistently scary, and the secluded blizzard town atmosphere served as a perfect setting for such a horror story. One thing that puzzles me, though it doesn't really bother me, is the sheer volume of blood spilled, considering that this is a movie about creatures that you wouldn't expect to waste blood. Maybe they can afford to be picky, I dunno.

This next point doesn't have much to do with the film itself, specifically, but it got me thinking. The action in the film is presented in that choppy quick-edit style that seems to be in vogue in horror these days. It's a style I first really noticed when watching 28 Days Later how many years ago. I can't quite come to a conclusion whether I like it or not. On the one hand, I like the fact that it attempts to recreate a psychological, panicked state, resulting in a visual that might be more akin to what you would actually experience were you in that situation. On the other hand, I can't help but say to myself, "just show me what's there, already! Quit jerking around and let me look at the damned thing!" Ah well, it certainly doesn't keep me from enjoying a film, and if nothing else it sets today's films apart from yesterday's (I wonder what people will be saying about that technique decades from now); I'm just kind of anxious for someone to come up with something altogether new and even better.

But as for 30 Days of Night, I very much enjoyed the film and I recommend it! If you're looking for a scary vampire flick, or snowed-in survival horror, don't miss it!

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