Wednesday, October 01, 2008
30 Days of Night
30 Days of Night- 3 stars (using the new JPX ratings scale)
(A quick Caveat prior to my VERY FIRST HORRORTHON REVIEW! I am NOT a film aficionado. I often pick the newest popular film on the Blockbuster shelves on a Saturday, ‘cause I just don’t want to work that hard… I have never even seen Schindler’s List for this reason. I know I should see it, but on a Saturday night with the Swede I am just looking for some entertainment and possible to get lucky. As Seinfeld taught us, Schindler’s List is not the appropriate move to make-out to. (Besides if your partner is turned on after watching it, that opens up a whole new can of psychological worms…) The point is, I do not examine the director’s vision, or cinematographer’s skill, I just know what I like.
So, I don’t write as well, or in as much detail as Jordan, and I don’t have the film nor horror chops of Octo/JPX/JSP, but I am looking forward to trying to entertain and inform with my amateur reviews.)
This is a vampire movie based on a Graphic Novel that I am sure others are more qualified to discuss. I would rate the premise with 5 stars, and the ending (which I will not reveal) the same rating for originality. I can only imagine that somewhere there are geeks who adored the Graphic Novel, who despise the movie, because the movie takes these flashes of brilliant originality and makes an average horror movie out of them.
The movie takes place in Barrow, Alaska, which we learn is the northernmost town in Alaska and falls into darkness for an entire month each year. We join this little town of misfits just before the darkness falls.
Our hero is Sheriff Oleson (Josh Hartnett), who is mourning the separation from his wife even as he is discovering little hints that something is amiss. I have to admit here that I don’t dislike Hartnett, and he doesn’t detract from the movie, but he is like Chinese Take-out. He’s fine at the time, but I can’t even remember he was in the movie as soon as it ends.
As the month of darkness falls the town is overrun with some of the coolest looking Vamps I have seen in film in a long time. Led by Marlow (David Huston), these ain’t your Daddy’s Dracula. They have black eyes, an entire mouth full of fangs, and the make-up artists have made their faces look like a surrealist painting come to life…there is just something…off…about them. They move fast, hit hard, and take out almost the entire town in their first attack-wave.
We are left with the same rag-tag bunch of survivors we have seen in a million movies before. The reluctant-hero sheriff, his estranged wife (ohhhh, do you think they will fall back into love?…yawn.), the young man who learns to be brave, the town curmudgeon (who gets to redeem his grumpy ways), blah, blah, blah. Our humans learn to chop the heads off the vamps with axes, hide in attics of the empty homes around town (ala Anne Frank), and make a heroic last stand.
The stars here are our vamps, they hunt in packs, use terrified children as bait to lure out the adults, and speak their own language (For which we get subtitles). The only time we hear them speak English is when Marlow leans into a young lady who exclaims “Oh, God!”, when she realizes she is about to get drained. Marlow looks up to the heavens as if searching for something, leans in to the terrified girl, and growls “God? No, God.”, then he eats.
The reason for the three stars is the dark mood of the movie, the fantastic premise, and the originality of the Vampires. This is yet another movie that could have been so much better than it was (see Underworld). If I was a Vampire, I would get tired of hiding all day too. I love the idea that they prey on small isolated towns that stay dark for long stretches of time and wipe them out. I just wish the premise had been supported by a script and star worthy of its genius.