Think about vampires. Really think about them. What comes to mind? Some long-haired greaseball mincing about in a poet’s shirt and a big velvet cape, lurking in corners and seducing women with a suave accent and undead good looks, right?
Well, thankfully, there’s none of that boring Anne Rice garbage in 30 Days of Night, which seeks to reconcile the differences between angsty emo Anne Rice vampires and the grotesqueries of Nosferatu. These vampires are not pretty. They are not seductive. They’re brutish, ugly, nasty, cruel animals who relentlessly hunt and kill their prey in as brutal a manner as possible.
Needless to say, I loved it.
That’s not to say 30 Days of Night is going to break any new ground. No, it’s a fairly standard horror movie. People trapped in places, monsters everywhere, lots of screaming and shooting, people gushing blood. There’s an estranged couple, Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett, who uses both his facial expressions) and Fire Marshall Stella Oleson (Melissa George, who can’t stick with an accent for longer than a few lines). There’s a town full of interesting characters who are probably all going to die, including a gentle giant beefy loner Marlowe (Danny Huston, playing against type as a good guy for once).
Barrow, Alaska is a town at the top of the world. Every year, for 30 days, there is no sun in Barrow. Most of the residents, who can’t handle that much time with no sunlight, pack up and leave, leaving only a skeleton crew of people to run the town’s generator, maintain the Alaskan Pipeline, and run the general store and diner. Even the radio station in Barrow closes down.
(Note: Barrow is a real place in Alaska, and it does have 30 days of night, but it’s actually a town of 4000, not 400, and as far as I know there have never been any vampire attacks. So please don’t hunt me down, children of the night.)
A nomadic tribe of Eastern European vampires, upon hearing about Barrow, decided that it would be a good time to go people eatin’. They’re all pasty, ugly, odd-looking chaps with long fingernails, teeth like sharks, and a tendency to screech loudly (like actual bats).
It’s a film with flaws, certainly. There’s a little too much of the “loud noise something jumping into the frame” sort of scare, especially in the early stages of the vampire attack. There are a metric ton of clichés the film indulges in when it comes to our core cast of survivors. It’s a bit dumber than the graphic novels on which it is based. However, all of that is forgiven when the first horrifying vampire attack happens.
I really enjoyed myself. Maybe it was because I’m hoping 30 Days of Night will give vampires the reboot they so sorely need away from the overly-indulgent pseudo-gothic sex symbols they’ve become. Maybe it is because the current crop of horror films has been mediocre, to say the least.
Either way, the film was smart enough not to deviate from the formula in any stupid ways while giving the audience the scares they’re looking for in the middle of October. Turn your brain off and enjoy yourself.