Monday, November 26, 2007

30 Days of Night (David Slade, 2007)

These days, any genre horror that doesn't disappoint me I consider successful. That's not meant to damn by faint praise - 3DON is not a film that'll leave you thinking or change your life, but it's an enjoyable little horror confection which stands above its peers, though by no means a classic.

The film is based on the comic book miniseries by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, which I haven't read (intriguingly, the comic was originally an unsuccessful script pitch - how postmodern!). It is at times, however, evident that the plot, which is jumpy and jerky, and at times seems written simply for the purpose of advancing the action, is taken from a longer narrative. It is set in Barrow, Alaska, a small town above the Arctic circle where midwinter sees the eponymous period of darkness. As the last day nears its close, Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett), the town sheriff, is troubled by strange, macabre pranks... meanwhile, his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George) is stranded in town. As the dark descends, we become aware that a gang of vampires has descended to terrorise the town, and our protagonists must play a deadly game of hide and seek for the next month.

These are not the sophisticated vampires of Anne Rice or Poppy Z. Brite; rather, they're brutish predators. The against-type casting of Danny Huston as Marlow, the head vampire, is nicely done; imagine a nondescript businessman become an archaic, blood-drenched fiend. The others, however, are stock-standard horror-movie fare. The script also at times clunks along in horror cliche mode, but there are some unexpected lines, and also some unexpected action, which lift the film above the standard Hollywood horror I-want-those-two-hours-of-my-life-back standard. Indeed, the male characters' reaction to blood and horror plays nicely against film cliche. It's a beautifully made piece, and the bleakly picturesque setting doesn't do any harm either, while George and Hartnett are both on par in their respective roles.

Overall, it won't go on your list of must-see classics, cult or otherwise - but for some entertaining horror that's got a twist more originality than standard Hollywood genre seatfiller, you could do a lot worse.

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