30 Days of Night

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30 Days of Night

Review (6/10)
(By Ron Henriques)

If it's Halloween, it must be "Saw." Oh wait a minute, my bad. That's not for another two weeks. Well, if it's Halloween it must be time for another horror production under Sam Raimi's "Ghost House" banner. It's also Vampire season and rather than give us another "Grudge" or "Boogeyman", Raimi has chosen to produce an adaptation of Steve Niles' graphic novel "30 Days of Night". To say this is the best of the horror thrillers Raimi has produced "aint saying much, but I guess it will do until that popular serial killer Jigsaw returns...again.

The premise is pretty simple: in the town of Barrow, Alaska, something wicked this way comes. Every year, the town is cut off from the sun and the rest of the world for thirty days. It's the perfect opportunity for a band of ancient vampires to wreak havoc and basically feast on everybody. Leading them to their prey is "Renfield" wannabe Ben Foster, who looks even grimier than he did in "3:10 to Yuma". He hopes Vampire leader Danny Huston will reward him by making him one of their pack, but these ghouls are looking for fresh food, not new recruits.

Standing in their way is noble Sheriff Josh Hartnett, who along with estranged wife Melissa George, are not fully prepared to fight off forty or so creatures of the night for a month. In a weak sub-plot, George and Hartnett are in the middle of a trial separation that's never fully explained. Now after missing her flight she's stuck for a month with pretty boy and a band of ghouls lurking in the shadows. Along with several survivors, they take refuge in the hidden attic of a vacationing neighbor and hope they can survive, starvation, the cold winter and the threat of killing each other before the Vampires do. Naturally these circumstances give rise to the typical stupid situations " infighting amongst members of the group, survivors journeying outside the safe zone and putting them all at risk and key members keeping the fact that they were accidentally bitten by one of the ghouls a secret from the group.

Though its being promoted as a new vision of the Vampire legend, there's nothing new about "30 Days of Night". Hartnett still hasn't proven himself as a dramatic lead, but surprisingly his quiet moments with George and the other survivors are the most intriguing. Maybe that's because the Vampires don't dominate those scenes. David Slade's direction isn't filled with those music video shock cuts that cause seizures, but rather simple camera moves and angles. He probably thought the appearance of his Vampires would be shocking alone, but that's not the case. Anyone can be jolted by a moment in a film where the soundtrack gets loud or someone leaps from the shadows. That's about the only method that will make these ghouls scary. Sure they have rat eyes and shark teeth, but they come across as rather dumb. Their method of intimidation involves growling and moving their heads around in a circle as if their necks were stiff. It's implied that they are an ancient race, but the language that Huston barks at his minions sounds like a poor man's Klingon. They also appear to share the same tailor as the Vamps in John Carpenter's entry in the genre: black suits with white shirts.

Although the film is supposed to be a vehicle for Hartnett, he isn't the leading man you want to root for. Mark Boone Junior, best known as corrupt cop Flass in "Batman Begins" gives a great supporting performance as a grizzled townsman who fearlessly takes on the entire Vampire clan with a snow plow equipped with, flares, dynamite and bear traps. He has a full beard unlike Hartnett who barely grows peach fuzz after not shaving for a month. As for leading lady Melissa George, after "The Amityville Horror" and "Turistas" its best she say goodbye to the horror genre. I found more scares in the TV adaptation of Stephen King's "Salem's Lot" and they weren't from David Soul's hair.


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