Josh Hartnett in a horror flick? That’s a miscast. Melissa George in a horror flick? I’m all for national pride, despite my status as the spawn of Kiwiland, but no.
Those were my impressions before seeing the film. Afterwards? I’m a little more confident in Hartnett and George. At the very least, they weren’t part of the problem.
30 Days of Night is based on the graphic novel series of the same name by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith. I’d like to say I’ve read the series, but I haven’t, so don’t ask for a comparison. What I can tell is whether 30 Days succeeds at being a scary vampire flick.
Well it, uh, has vampires…The film is set in Barrow, an isolated town in the snowy northern reaches of Alaska. Thanks to the quirkiness that is the seasons, Barrow is doused in 30 days of night each winter. Not exactly practical for humans, but almost as good as sex for nocturnal manbeasts of legend. And those who love their Wikipedia – yes, we’re going to ignore the fact that Barrow’s extra-super-long night is actually 67 days in length.
Hartnett plays the role of Eben, the town’s sheriff, and Melissa George his wife Stella, a gun-wielding fire marshal. The film is benign to begin with, but with the arrival of “The Stranger” (Ben Foster), huskies start dying, phone lines get cut and the lights go out. With the town denied its modern conveniences, the vampires move in and transform Barrow from small town to feeding ground. As you’d expect, it’s up to Eben and Stella to keep what few survivors there are alive until the sun comes up.
The vamps are the smart kind, and the makeup and prosthetics supplied by Weta Workshop are as creepy as they need to be. But they’re not scary. The vamps spend most of their time hissing and clicking at each other, and when they do talk, it’s only their leader (Danny Huston) who has anything to say. It’s just a shame his one-liners are so boring, he may as well have stayed silent the whole film.
When the vamps attack, all they do is bend over a body and shake their heads. Were they feeding or having a seizure? I couldn’t tell. If you’re after that gross kind of horror, you’ll be waiting until the last 15 or so minutes of the film for your kick. It’s worth it, though.
Despite my misgivings, I did enjoy the film. It’s evident a lot of work went into the presentation, and in particular the atmosphere. I love my vampires, (but zombies are more to my liking), and there’s no better scenario than an isolated village, snowed under and drowned in perpetual darkness, being attacked by a pack of bloodthirsty, intelligent undead. But it stands no chance of displacing 28 Days Later as my all-time favourite horror film.
30 Days of Night will be out in cinemas on November 8 (and clocks in at 107 minutes), if you think I’m a retard and you’d like to check it out for yourself.
Verdict: See it, but wait for the DVD
Cult-o-meter: Maybe with Buffy addicts