Reviewers split on new vampire flick ’30 Days of Night’
October 25, 2007
There once was a romantic vision of vampires. They were seen as regal, mysterious and brooding figures; tortured souls that preyed on our psyches. Bela Lugosi terrified audiences the world over as he cast his eerily hypnotic spell in “Dracula,” and Max Schrek gave countless viewers nightmares of pale creatures hiding in the dark in “Nosferatu.”
These unsettling characters that once haunted our minds have been replaced by a group of senseless, mindless, zombie wannabes. “30 Days of Night” butchers the old romantic vision of the vampire and turns to the Hollywood stereotype of what makes a horror flick—make the audience jump while pouring bucket after bucket of blood on them.
“30 Days of Night,” based on the graphic novel series of the same name, finds the little town of Barrow, Alaska, as it is preparing to descend into a month of uninterrupted darkness. In the final day of sunlight, town sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) is set upon investigating a series of bizarre crimes in town, all of which help to completely isolate Barrow from the outside world.
Once the sun sets for the last time in 30 days, a group of vampires arrive and begin brutally murdering everything with a pulse. It is up to Eben to lead a rag-tag band of survivors, including his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George), to safety as they wait for the sun to rise again.
The problems for “30 Days” begin almost immediately. The film tries to get to the action as quickly as possible but in the process forgets to flesh out characters the audience should care about. Once the action does come, it is wholly predictable and shallow. Vampires jump out of shadows, mutilate some jugulars, and move on. The usual bevy of bullets, of course, has no effect so the half-dozen survivors are forced to take shelter in a concealed attic and try to outlast the invading vampiric horde. The film plays out like Anne Frank with monsters.
All of the details of the plot appear to have been toked out in a pipe dream; the ending is such a contrived mess, even Uwe Boll might be left speechless. The Razzies should take special note here, even the vampires dialogue reads like it was scribbled on a napkin by a five-year-old. A movie that tries so hard to scare you inadvertently makes you laugh… often.
At least the actors handle themselves well enough. For a situation so far out of the realm of reality, their performances seem genuine.
On a very basic and cerebral level, “30 Days of Night” works out fine. Gore fiends will find plenty of red to quench their squeamish urges while thrill seekers should jump at least a few times. For the casual viewer who wishes to not think at all for two hours, “30 Days” won’t be a complete waste of time.
For the rest of us, the moviegoers who engage their brains during viewing, the film falls completely apart under any amount of scrutiny or consideration. “30 Days of Night” does a rare thing in proving that even a movie with low expectations can disappoint.
Ken Weigend is an alumnus of UW-River Falls. He was editor of the Student Voice during spring semester 2010.