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30 Days of Night: A Fantastic Vampire Film That Doesn’t Get Old

January 19, 2018

 

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I’ve been a fan of 30 Days of Night since it was released in 2007. I love how it features a solid cast, A+ visuals, and introduces well-dressed vampires who are really mean. When I say the vampires are “mean,” I genuinely mean it because they are nasty f**kers who won’t hesitate to straight up destroy people. Director David Slade (Hard Candy, Hannibal, American Gods, Black Mirror)  imbued 30 Days of Nights with a welcome dose of dread, violence and bird’s eye shots that make death and destruction beautiful to look at. Most importantly, famed horror disliker Roger Ebert had a soft spot for the movie and in his review he quoted a review from Dreadcentral.com that did a fantastic job breaking down the film:

If you are a horror fan, you will love it, and in the interest of equal time for the defense, I close with evocative prose by the critic Tristan Sinns from his five-dagger (out of five) review on DreadCentral.com: ” ’30 Days of Night’ grabs this hoary monster by the throat, pumps it full of the thick rich blood of life, and shoves it out to greet you, eat you and coat you in glorious mists of red firing from oh-so-many newly exposed arterial sprays.”

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If you are curious as to why I am writing a very late review of 30 Days of Night it is because I recently finished up Penny Dreadful (super good) and saw that this movie was now on Netflix. I’ve written about it in the past when it was voted one of the “best horror films that won’t be on any top horror lists,”  and I later included in my “best 21st century horror moments” article. However, I’ve never written about it in-depth and after watching it again, I wanted to dedicate a review to it.

I was initially excited for the film because it was produced under Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spider-Man) and Rob Tapert’s (more Evil Dead) Ghost House Production company. I will watch pretty much anything Sam Raimi does and I liked David Slade’s Hard Candy, so 30 Days of Night seemed like a slam dunk. However, I wasn’t expecting the film to look so good or feature such extreme bleakness. Cinematographer Jo Willems (Hard Candy, Hunger Games 2-4, American Gods, Limitless, Red Sparrow) did a fantastic job, and his work elevates the proceedings and some of the shot/moments are drearily beautiful..

The bird’s eye view of the carnage is a brutal moment.

30 Days of Night revolves around a gang of well-dressed vampires attacking an Alaskan town that is settling down for a month of darkness.. The blood-suckers are aided by a squirrelly human “The Stranger” (Ben Foster) who goes into town in order to kill the sled dogs, take out the power, and glower like only Ben Foster does. Once all the communications have been shut down, the vampires attack and unleash an insane amount of carnage and blood geysers. The brutal attack doesn’t kill all the townsfolk and a handful of survivors lead by local sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) and his estranged fire marshal wife Stella (Melissa George) hunker down and attempt to survive the long night. From there, things get very brutal as humans are used as traps, child vampires spill blood, and several people are decapitated.

The biggest issue I have with the film is what happens after the massive vampire attack. I understand that the survivors had to hole up in various locations to make sure they lived through the 30 days of night. After they hunker down the timeline gets a bit wonky and the passing of the time doesn’t feel organic. The downtime grinds the momentum to a halt and focuses on some side characters making  very bad decisions that gets them brutally murdered Also, I agree with a review from Empire’s James Dyer who thinks it could’ve happened in one night because we never get a feel for the 30 days.

An underrated aspect of 30 Days of Night is Josh Hartnett’s performance. Hartnett has been fighting monsters for over 20 years (Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, The Faculty, Penny Dreadful) and I totally believed that he could take out feral vampires. My favorite line happens when the lead vampire Marlow (Danny Huston – crushing it) says “The one who fights,” when squaring off with Hartnett at the end. It’s rare when you can actually believe that a character could win a fistfight with a centuries old beast.

I like Melissa George and Josh Hartnett together.

30 Days of Night is a genuinely good horror film that hits above its weight, looks beautiful and delivers the vampire goods. Check it out on Netflix!

 

 

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2018 7:12 am

    This film is such a blast, it remains one of my favourite horror films to this day. Great cast, great action (actually scary vampires) and a seemingly hopeless situation. I agree with the issue about the passing of time not being portrayed as well as it could be.
    That being said, the premise works soo well for the vampire myth.
    Great article

    • January 19, 2018 9:16 am

      Thanks! Glad you liked. I totally agree with you about the vampires. I remember watching it for the first time and being like “These things are legit.” They’re like feral/sophisticated vampires. They’d hate the lounging vampires in the Underworld films

  2. John Leavengood permalink
    January 19, 2018 9:13 am

    Your description of Danny Huston facing off against Josh Hartnett instantly reminded me of Pitt’s unbeatable Achilles unhelming before advancing upon Bana’s Hector.

    • January 19, 2018 9:14 am

      That is another great fight! I really like Hartnett in this film. I totally bought he could fist-fight a very jerky vampire (who dresses great).

  3. John permalink
    January 19, 2018 3:53 pm

    Your headline is spot on. Always watchable.

Trackbacks

  1. John’s Horror Corner: Dead Birds (2004), a low budget Civil War period piece mashing up a cult creature feature with an odd haunting, and starring Michael Shannon! | Movies, Films & Flix

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