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30 Days of Night

Film Three Stars
30 Days of Night, the graphic novel adaptation about an Alaskan town starting its usual month of darkness that is plagued by vampires sounded really promising from the outset. Directed by David Slade, who brought us the excellent Hard Candy (Filmstalker review), and written by Steve Niles, Stuart Beattie and Brian Nelson, it all seemed great. Even the news of the new cameras being used that filmed night as day and gave an eerie stylish effect in the process.

So one of Filmstalker's regular readers, Ramchandra Solanki, attended the recent press screening in London and reviewed the film for us - you can do this too if you join the Facebook group.

Here's the review for 30 Days of Night from Ramchandra.

Plot.png30DaysofNight.jpgFor 30 days every winter, the isolated town of Barrow, Alaska is plunged into a state of complete darkness. It's a bitter time when most of the inhabitants head south. This winter, a mysterious group of strangers appear: bloodthirsty vampires, ready to take advantage of the uninterrupted darkness to feed on the residents remaining in town. Barrow's Sheriff Eben (Josh Hartnett), his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George), and an ever-shrinking group of survivors must do anything they can to last until daylight.

TheFilm.pngA stranger is seen in town (Ben Foster) in conjunction with a number of strange cases of vandalism/attacks as the town prepares for it's 30 days of darkness. The setup is perfect. They clearly make you feel that things are going to be going wrong here, big-time. Though Ben Foster has little screen-time, in these initial scenes he flawlessly adds to the sense of intimidation. He knows something that explains the strange occurences around town, but he doesn't spell it out, only hints at it. "They're coming!"

As expected of a film of this genre it has the key characters defined early on, the main couple with a conflict in their back story, other key individuals, relatives, families, some of which will become prey, some not, and it's up to you to guess who. Thankfully they don't spend too much time messing around once the setup is complete. Time to watch as the bloodbath ensues. People start getting slaughtered as the vampires are revealed. Defnitely another big win for the film. These are mean looking vamps. Gone are the days of dodgy morphs and painted faces, the effects fit the genre to the tee. I personally also liked that they didn't speak English. It made them more, believable.

From here the ride is pretty constant up to the pre-climax. Is this good? Well, yes and no. The plus side is that the action keeps you engaged, consistently, with intimidation, people turned to vamps, vamp to dust, beheadings, the usual stuff you'd expect from a decent vampire flick. The good stuff.

On the flipside, there isn't much there to suggest that days are passing by. Josh gets stubble, but not much else changes. An in-depth progression of time may be much to expect from a film like this, but with a title like this, I'd have expected that they put in something, unfortunately, we only get a caption 3 or 4 times in the film telling you what day it is. Before you know it, day 30 has arrived, and this is where it gets interesting (and not in a good way).

If you were to compare the good times you have when 'drinking and merry' with 'the aftermath' or worse the situation where you're not careful, leading to 'projectile reverse of swallowing', well that's precisely how I felt about the film upto this point compared to its last 10 minutes. Everything was going so well. Since I intend to keep this spoiler-free, my sentiments are simply 'why-oh-why did you do that??' My own possible justifications were, perhaps to add more drama to the 30th day? To remain true to the graphic novel? Just for fun? I couldn't say for sure, but if they had to incorporate it, I think it was crucial that they had some setup for those final events. It seemed a little far fetched (okay I can let that slip, since it's a film about vampires after all) but also too sudden. Even films with a good twist have some setup, something to look back at and think, ah that makes sense. Here there is none.

Overall, if the last 10 minutes were removed from memory (which is really unfortunate that I can't) I would have recommended it as a top-class vampire film, with some good characterisation and numerous humerous kills (human and vampire alike). Alas, at my current standing, I'll say its a pungent disappointing after-taste sticking with you after an otherwise good meal.

UK IMDB Film Details



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