Tuesday, October 30, 2007

30 Days of Night

Getting into the sprit of the Halloween season I decided to see a horror movie. The film I chose was 30 Days of Night. It’s adapted from the graphic novel of the same name (which I have not read). The premise is quite fresh and breaths some new life into the tired Vampire genre. In Barrow, the most northern town of Alaska, 30 days of each winter is spent in total darkness. A group of vampires has decided that this is the perfect opportunity to feast endlessly for whole month bringing utter destruction and terror to the town.

The short of it is basically this picture is an invasion/survival scenario with many evocative ideas but sadly, its less then the sum of it’s parts. It’s got all the correct elements and the movie can be entertaining but I think the writer and the director chose to emphasize the wrong aspects of the story. One of the problems is how the vampires are handled. We never learn anything about them or their origins. It’s mentioned that they have kept their identity secret for many centuries but why now have they decided to go completely crazy, wipe out a whole town and risk exposure? We never see where they are staying or how they organize themselves beyond the actions of their human agent in the beginning of the film. In addition, I strangely found that I both liked and disliked the depiction of the vampires. In 30 Days, the vampires tend to be inhuman monsters. Now I usually enjoy this type of vampire as I dislike the nancy boy goth versions, but this time the prototypical romantic bloodsucker might have been a nice touch, a fish out of water type of deal.

The other area that 30 Days fails somewhat is that there should have been much more of an invasion and survival feeling. We are in a remote area occupied by very hardy folks. I just don’t see them rolling over so quickly. There should have been some sort of organized resistance to the vampires early in the film despite the fact it would be doomed to failure. After a failed counterattack then the realization that hiding and evading is the only way for the characters would make more sense. The "must have" love story should have been down played in favor of more hard-nosed survival. The terror of being alone and cut off for days on end never really hits home because it doesn’t really feel like 30 Days but rather a weekend. I suspect that the comic is better in this regard.

30 Days of Night is a mixed bag. Often the production values are good and there certainly are some very gruesome scenes. But a survival story should have been the main focus after and an initial battle. So while the premise is fresh the plotting is not. If you like vampires seeing it on DVD or cable is enough.

Here is what I liked in no particular order (spoilers):

It’s a great premise

The vampires were gross

The vampire’s human agent character was scary cool.

The tension before the vampires invade is good.

I like the plan the vampires had to cover their tracks.

Most folks don’t survive

Liked much of the music

Here is what I disliked in no particular order (spoilers):

The sheriff should have done a better job warning the town.

The vampires would know how to speak English to their victims.

The vampires use the same tactics over and over again. You don’t get to have an unlife of hundreds of years by being dumb.

The all out attack by the vampires in the beginning zips by too fast. Then a lot of time is spent with the human waiting around doing nothing.

The direction and plot are weak

Could be much more scary

Missed Opportunities (spoilers):

Shouldn’t there be more native Alaskans there?

More info on and more characterization of the vampires

The characters should have been much more broken down after so many days in hiding with little food and heat.

The trailer:



Nick said...

Finally saw this Saturday with a friend, maybe it was me but every sound in that movie was earshattering, it helped build tension and scare the crap outta ya but, geeze those vampire screeches sometimes..ow, ears.

I think the general problem with this movie was, they tried to fit in too much in a short amount of time, if it had been a little longer a lot of the cons you mentioned likely could have been resolved. I did like the fact that towards the end they kept the vampire fight close to the graphic novel, though I remember it in the graphic novel being cooler and the main guy having an axe and going APE.

Dean Wormer said...

I read one of the graphic novels and it was pretty good.

Too bad movie doesn't live up to the book.

Swinebread said...

nick - I kinda found all the noise distracting, as if the director hadn't built up the plot and used the sound for a momentary jolt.

As for too much story, I was thinking maybe 30 days might be a better mini-series.

dean - yeah, I do want to read the comic now though