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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

30 Days of Night

I was on board. I sported my finest brooding trench coat, strapped on my seat-belt and scanned the radio until I found some European goth metal. I was ready to take the ride with 30 Days of Night. After all, how could a bloodthirsty film fan not get hyped for a vampire flick that takes place in Alaska during thirty days in which the sun doesn't rise, especially when it is helmed by David Slade, director of the excellent Hard Candy? Blood, snow, darkness and satanic vampires – how could you not want to jump on board? The answer is simple – watch the first ten minutes! To continue the cumbersome analogy from above I had just started the engine when I realized that the car had no engine, no wheels and a tendency to burst into flames when exposed to direct sunlight.

The biggest draw of this movie was definitely the setting. Regrettably the promise of the premise hangs over the film like a malaise. For a place that has no sunlight and is being ravaged by uber-destructive vampires there is a lot of environmental lighting here. So much so that any surprises are ruined well in advance as you can easily see where the next fiend is coming from. There's no real suspense, just surprise that the human characters in this film are too stupid to notice 30 vampires locking in on their position. Rather then letting the darkness that would presumably occur during thirty days of night add to the suspense the filmmakers decide to “stylize” the film like a second-rate 300. All we're really left with then is fancy looking blood splatters.

Seriously, that is all. There is no real story here, rather the film plays out like an extended chase sequence. The humans aren't running anywhere and they don't really seem to want to accomplish anything other than to sit in one place and provide a delicious meal for a blood-sucker. It's kind of like watching an especially bloody episode of Seinfeld only there is no humor and a complete lack of interesting characters. The scenes in which the vampires attack clearly show that the filmmakers to have invested more money in corn syrup, red dye and fake limbs then, say, scriptwriters and acting talent. The amount of exploding heads makes the action sequences almost satisfying – as long as the vampires aren't playing Euro-trash techno records with their long fingernails as their comrades howl along (this seriously happens).

Sadly, any positive points earned by the gallons of blood are quickly washed away when director David Slade lets his cast, led by Josh Hartnett (plays some sheriff type) and some blonde lady (I think she's a sheriff type as well) I've never heard of spread their acting wings and endlessly pontificate on how screwed they are. Over and over and over again. The only difference between these numerous dialogue scenes is that sometimes they take place in a different ramshackle Alaskan shed and sometimes there are less people in the chit-chat posse because the other dudes have been eaten. At least I think that's what happened to them. The movie never really bothers to explain. Perhaps they simply fled the set.

The one bright spot I can take from this movie is that Slade has signed on to do one of the future Twilight movies. If he gives Twihards anything like 30 Days of Night then maybe that will finally put a stake into the heart of that franchise and I can finally, once again, talk about vampire movies without getting into a heated debate with a thirteen year-old over whether Edward or Jacob has the hotter bod.


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