Mark Boone Junior
Trivia Sam Raimi was slated to direct the film when the script was in its earliest stages before he opted to produce instead.
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30 Days of Night (2007)
17th Dec 07
You may think that you have had bad days. Imagine this, being stuck in a small Alaskan town with no sunlight, not just for one day but for THIRTY during its winter period. For those affected with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) this would be enough of a bummer. Factor in a bunch of vicious vampires making the most of the darkness offered and chances are things couldn't really get much worse.
Not everyone chooses to stay around in Barrow during this period of extended darkness with most of the small town's five hundred population heading south, leaving just 152 willing to brave it out. Into this community comes a stranger (Ben Foster) who sets about stealing and burning all mobile phones (rather improbable), trashing the only helicopter and ((SOB)) offing all the doggies.
Incarcerated by Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) and his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George), the stranger continues to put a downer on things by announcing that death is coming to the small town. Pretty much as the words fall from his gob the town's power is cut off - as if it wasn't dark enough already - and a pack of vampires attack the town in a spectacular and devastating fashion.
With the nearest town eighty miles away the surviving members of the initial attack band together to find a way out of their extraordinary situation.
Considering how dire much of the output from Sam Raimi's Ghost House Productions has been it is pleasing to report that their latest, 30 Days of Night, is doing exactly what you'd expect of a production company out to spook. Based on the graphic novel by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, the first of a comic book miniseries of the same published in 2002, the aim was to make a scary vampire movie from the source given that the makers that there had been a lack of these of late.
Director David Slade exploded onto the movie scene with his acclaimed feature-debut the goollie-worrying Hard Candy (2005). His style feels like early (read, better) John Carpenter. Think Assault on Precinct 13 set against the snowy wilderness of The Thing and you get some idea of the vibe Slade has created - even the filmís soundtrack feels very Carpenter.
Sladeís movie brings to mind Zack Synderís Dawn of the Dead remake. In much the same way that Zynder had his zombies full on, Slade has his vamps jumping and leaping and even has a little girl vampire as Synder had a girl zombie for his sensational opening. And like zombies these vampires can be shot in the head in order to be dispatched.
In terms of performances, the always-reliable Danny Huston is a standout as vampire leader Marlow. Given that his performance is restricted to snarling and speaking in an ancient dialect it's not exactly a role geared to elicit a thespian's strengths so itís to his credit that he still manages to exude an extraordinary level of menace. This is one sucker you definitely donít want to bump into.
Watch out also for Mark Boone Jnr as Beau Brower, the local snowplough driver. A fixture in many genre pictures, from the underrated Dead Birds to the fun Frankenfish, Boone Jnr adds another credible support character to his belt and steals the show with a key scene involving his snow plough.
Interestingly the leads Josh Harnett and Melissa George, with genre pleasers Halloween H20, The Faculty and the forthcoming WAZ between them, have the least interesting roles as the estranged couple but itís their relationship that ultimately shapes how the vampires are defeated come the rather melodramatic ending. In fact the estranged lead couple is a story thread that has been done to death but here it feels a welcome comfort like saying hello to an old friend.
That said 30 Days of Night is not about building up believable characters, itís more about situation. This is a story ripped down to basics. Itís relentless and never feels tired all the while toying with genre conventions. The movie plays it straight, no silly throwaway quips. This is a proper hide behind the cushion / snuggle-up-to-your-loved-one movie. It isnít just about gore. Itís about cranking up the tension and it does it with aplomb. Vampire movies donít get much better than this.