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Sunday, 5 October 2008

DVD Of The Week: 30 Days Of Night (2007)

Every so often a film comes along with such a brilliant - but, in retrospect, obvious - twist that you wonder why it's never been done before.

30 Days Of Night has a pack of vampires besieging an Alaskan town near the Artic circle where, for one month of the year, the sun doesn't rise.

Based on Steve Niles famous comic book, with a script by Steve Niles, Stuart Beattie and Brian Nelson, it's such an obvious idea - given that vampires traditionally can't stand sunlight - that now I see it executed so perfectly I am genuinely surprised that no one hasn't thought of it before.

As Barrow, Alaska, prepares for its "30 days of night", isolated as it is from the rest of the world, accessible only by air, Sheriff Eben (Josh Hartnett) notices an increase in vandalism around the town and begins to realise that someone is trying to cut them off completely.

With the setting of the sun comes, out of the frozen wilderness, the vampires - having sent in one of their human slaves first of all to lay the groundwork for their arrival - ready to turn Barrow into an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The film has shades of Assault on Precinct 13 mixed in with Night Of The Living Dead, as the ever-dwindling number of survivors play cat-and-mouse with the beastial vampires during the neverending night, moving from one claustrophobic safehouse to another as they try to stay one step ahead of their hunters.

As dawn approaches, the vampires decide to up their game, to make sure that no one ever knows they were there, and start to institute a policy of scorched Earth.

It's then that Eben hits on his surprising, leftfield method of beating the monsters and keeping his estranged wife (the very cute Melissa George) and the other survivors alive for the last few hours before sunrise.

There are some wonderfully gory moments, as you would hope, with the finest coming when the town's resident surly giant Beau Brower (Mark Boone Junior) runs amok with a large snow shredder/plough - basically a monstrous chainsaw on the front of a truck.

Although there is also some cliched cheesy character stuff between Eben and his estranged wife this is thankfully kept to a minimum and doesn't disrupt the general flow of carnage and does add weight to the emotional impact of the final scene.

Kudos too for Steve Niles' reinvention of vampires as supernatural sharks, eating machines on two legs, driven by animal instincts - rather than the flowery, tortured emo souls we are used to seeing on television these days.

2 comments:

  1. There were a few things I really liked about this movie, and a lot I didn't. The vampires leading the kid through the street as bait was perfect. Their brutality was refreshing (possibly the most brutal vamps since Christopher Lee's Dracula). I get a bit sick of the too-suave vampires (I tend to blame Anne Rice for this :-).

    I had problems with the bizarre passage of time. It was three days in, then two weeks in. Also, when the human population really dropped, the vamps did not seem to freak out, or enjoy the chase any longer.

    A bit that I am on the fence with is how much killing went on in the beginning. I think of vamps as being smart enough to maintain the population to last thirty days, but then I imagine a shark-like feeding frenzy would take place.

    Now that it is on DVD, maybe I'll give it another shot.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good points! The passage of time was odd, but I accepted it as a conceit of the film to make sure some of the characters survived to see the new dawn!

    Thanks for your comments, and I have to agree on the whole "sauve vampire" thing being Anne Rice's fault - turning monsters into sympathetic anti-heroes is always a slippery slope.

    ReplyDelete

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