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30 days of Night

Movie title: 30 Days of Night (2007)
Grade: B- (3 stars)
Rated: R
Director: David Slade
Producers: Ted Adams, (Exec.) Joseph Drake, (Exec.) Aubrey Henderson, (Exec.) Nathan Kahane, Sam Raimi, (Exec.) Mike Richardson, Chloe Smith
Starring: Josh Hartnett “Sheriff Eben Oleson,” Melissa George “Stella Oleson,” Danny Huston “Marlow,” Ben Foster “The Stranger,” Mark Boone Junior “Beau Brower,” Mark Rendall “Jake Oleson,” Amber Sainsbury “Denise,” Manu Bennett “Deputy Billy Kitka”
Genre: Horror
Summation: Vampires migrate to northern Alaska to feast on humans during the dark winter months.
Spoilers ahead: No
In a word: Gory

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All may seem well in the icebox of America’s northernmost city (Barrow, Alaska), but this winter is not going to be like any other. Once the annual thirty days of polar darkness sets in, vampires take the opportunity to feast on trapped and helpless inhabitants. That’s the running theme in this Halloween horror 30 Days of Night directed by David Slade.

If you want horror, you’ve got it! Faces are slashed open with powerful claws, sending blood and screams of horror into the air. The level of realism is most unsettling as heads are graphically chopped off with multiple, laborious swings from an ax. Horrified men, women, and children are ripped from their quaint houses and wrestled to a snowy ground as their throats are bitten open with serrated teeth, leaving a red slush underneath the victims. In this film, gore-hounds will not be disappointed.

As for originality, the movie doesn’t have much, but it has a little. Facial features that are very pronounced, almost catlike in form, augment the typical European charm and look seen in most vampires. There’s no turning into bats and flying away here! These evil Hell-beasts are hungry, and they have thirty days of crippling darkness to chow down on the human population without consequence.

Hurting the credibility of the film, there were few if any Inuit people visible in a town of only five thousand where there should have been plenty. Instead, we have handsome and attractive Caucasian men and women. This was because the film wasn’t really filmed in Alaska, but New Zealand. I guess the director felt it was too hard to fly over and film the town with native Alaskan stand-ins, which (as stated) hurt the credibility of the film.

The credibility of the film suffered in two other serious regards, one being that Alaska is not dark for 30 days, but for 62. But even then, when it’s dark, it isn’t pitch black except for most of the day. An afternoon sun can be seen for several hours that looks like a late summer evening's brightness. Some better research on Alaska should have been done before filming began.

The humans are physically no match for the vampires, making it almost impossible to resist them. The plot is original, as are the vampires, with their oh-so-wicked tendency to take women and children and force them to march down the cold city streets and call out for help to draw out hiding humans. Beyond these things, however, nothing stands out as truly gripping.

While the plot was good, the quality of acting was fair at best. Character development was completely average, and the film doesn’t really make you feel for someone when they get killed. The screams are mostly realistic, but definitely overdone at times, as is the intensely savage behavior of the vampires, which could have been hemmed in a bit.

The dialogue was flat and largely uninteresting; “What do they want?” “I don’t know.” “How are we going to stop them?” “I don’t know.” Although very apparent at times, these quirks are not unlivable. One thing I found particularly interesting was how wasteful these hungry vampires were to leave thick trails of precious, tasty blood in the snow to go to waste. One would think that intelligent, humanoid predators would be more conservative with their food supply (even lions are careful to lick up all the blood from their kill).

In the final analysis, the movie is definitely worth seeing if you love intensely gory horror or vampire flicks, or if you are just looking for a good scary film. For the rest of us, well, seeing it still might not be a waste of time.

(JH)

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