30 Days of Night brings Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s graphic novel to the screen. Even though there is their fair share of horror movie standards, 30 Days of Night does have original plot and visual aspects.
Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) prepares the town Barrows, Alaska for its annual thirty straight days of night. Unfortunately for the residents who stay behind to sit through the darkness, a coven of vampires have figured out they could have one month of free reign over the town; feasting until their vampirey stomachs are full. Sheriff Oleson has to protect the people who have found their way into his charge, including his ex-wife, Stella (Melissa George).
Ok, ok, I’ll admit right out of the gate, I love horror movies. Even my adoration couldn’t sway my expectations any lower. Josh Hartnett, graphic novel rip off, vampires, Alaska, seemed like mixing orange juice and peppermint ice-cream. Much to my surprise, it was more like cottage cheese and salsa; sounds gross until you taste it.
My problem with most horror movies where there is an alpha male lead is they always turn into an irrational bad ass and the women into mindless boob carriers. 30 Days of Night could be the first horror movie with superhuman bad guys I’ve seen with a physically strong male lead and mentally strong leading lady that don’t lose their minds and fall into those clichés. Hell even the vampires don’t suffer from being entirely run of the mill.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this won’t be a movie that redefines the genre or anything. The vampires are mostly standard fare. They even speak their own stupid language, which sounds like a bastardized Swahili. What really annoyed me about the vampires was the head shaking like they were having seizures while they were feeding. They must have super healing powers to recover from the whiplash. Most of the time, though, they were pretty fun.
What really won me over was the camera work. There are beautiful shots that show how alone a Stella feels or the fear in a child. I was stunned by the attention to lighting (ok, well there sure is a lot of it for a place that is supposed to be pitch black) and the way the scenes are framed. It kept striking me that the cinematographer, Jo Willems, wasn’t jut phoning it in, but was really paying attention to making the movie scary with more than just blood and guts!
If you enjoy horror movies, you’ll probably enjoy this one. It isn’t a mind blowing experience but it didn’t leave me wanting to blow my brains out either. All in all, it was pretty fun!