30 Days of Night is not scary; nor is it compelling. It has some cardboard characters and some incoherent editing. Still interested?
A good concept involves a band of vampires migrating to an Alaskan town to enjoy the 30-day darkness of a northern winter, and feeding on the handful of hardy residents that live there. Filmed on a soundstage in West Auckland, the Alaskan snow-covered town feels scarily claustrophobic. The graphic novel origins are clearly referenced and the visual effects are very good. Throw in some attractive lighting and you have a good-looking film.
It’s a shame, then, that the vampires are a bit iffy. They speak in some ancient language, and cry out to each other in piercingly high-pitched wailings. And while their strange black eyes and emaciated faces are disturbing, their leader (Danny Huston) looks like he just finished a shift at the office. His babblings about prophecies are just waffling nonsense; filler for the sake of giving the bad guys some screen time.
The editing is ridiculously frantic, relegating the action scenes as incoherent. There’s plenty of movement on screen, but certainly no way of knowing what in the hell is going on. Just sit back and assume it’s a vampire attacking a human; that’s what’s happening most of the time.
Josh Harnett, sadly, doesn’t do very well as the leading man. He’s as flat as a pancake; as bleak and frigid as the landscape around him. This is the personality of someone with depression, and I wonder if the setting of dark rural Alaska is synonymous with the despair of the mind. His interaction with the ex-girlfriend (Melissa George) is annoying, especially the airing of relationship issues in the middle of a vampire attack.
The real problem with 30 Days is that there’s simply nothing to make us care about what happens to these characters. And even if the point was to just make a shlocky B-grade horror, populated with disposable people, the film just isn’t fun enough. It’s a bit hard to engage with such a story when it’s so full of drab clichés such as the ol’ vampire-kid that needs to be killed.
Some good gore (a brilliant beheading, in particular) and an inventive visual style definitely help 30 Days31 stand out, but everything else is as blank as a snowdrift.