30 Days of Night (2007)

Josh Hartnett as Eben Oleson in 30 Days of Night (2007)

30 Days of Bite

They say two out of three isn't bad but when it comes to "30 Days of Night" that one out of three it misses is pivotal. Okay so let me explain "30 Days of Night" has a clever storyline with a North Alaska town coming under attack from vampires during the 30 days where they are plunged into darkness. Director David Slade fills the movie with style, be it the use of darkness to create atmosphere or the fact that the vampires on show are monsters. Both of these make for what should be a good movie except what happens well it is all rather ordinary, small group of people battle for survival in the hope they get through till the sun rises again. If only what happened was more interesting then "30 Days of Night" would have been one of the best horror movies of the decade.

With the North Alaskan town of Barrow preparing for 30 days of darkness most of its small population have left leaving just the die hard residence. There is also something else in town as Sheriff Eben (Josh Hartnett - Wicker Park) discovers, a group of vampires have arrived looking to make the most of the 30 days of darkness. With many of those who stayed caught up in a vampire feeding frenzy, Eben and his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George - The Limey) must try and protect a small band of survivors in the hope they can make it through 30 days when the sun rises again.

Danny Huston as Marlow in 30 Days of Night (2007)

As horror movies go I absolutely love the basic idea of a North Alaskan town which due to it being so north has 30 days of darkness making it perfect for vampires to come in and attack. I also like the fact that these vampires come in for a feeding frenzy, mass slaughtering those who stay in the town during the darkness and then picking off the survivors. It has an intelligence about it especially as these vampires are clever enough to torch the town on their last day to hide any evidence of their existence.

On top of this clever idea director David Slade also delivers a visually great movie, from the use of darkness, various shops and buildings as hideouts to just the atmosphere of fear it is solid. It is especially solid when it comes to the actual vampires because these are heartless monsters who prowl around waiting to strike, picking off one survivor at a time and luring them out. It certainly makes a nice change to romanticized vampires you see in other movies because these are truly evil, not an ounce of decency in their bodies and Danny Huston ends up being the star of the movie because of how evil he appears as Marlow the head vampire. In fact whilst "30 Days of Night" also stars Josh Hartnett and Melissa George they are strangely forgettable.

But the trouble is that whilst we have a clever idea, great visuals and great monsters what happens is for the most ordinary. Basically what we have is after the initial mass slaying as the vampires sweep into town is a group of survivors who hide away and try and make it through till the sun rises again. It means that every now and then there is a close encounter as they switch buildings, there are moments of heroics and sacrifice as well as Sheriff Eben having to turn executor and killing those he knows who become infected. No matter how much tension Slade puts into this, what weapon of choice they use to kill a vampire it is the same thing you will see in other movies, often of the Zombie variety and that is a shame.

What this all boils down to is that conceptually and visually "30 Days of Night" is great and Danny Huston's portrayal of a blood sucking monster is terrifying. Unfortunately what we get to watch just doesn't live up to everything else because it becomes the cliche story of a small group battling for survival. I still recommend watching "30 Days of Night" but be prepared for various cliches which don't do the rest of the movie justice.