Friday, October 19, 2007

A long night

30 Days of Night [R]
Grade: D

A monthlong vampire attack can be hell on community spirit but work wonders for a troubled marriage.

That’s one message that you can take from 30 Days of Night, this week’s high-end horror entry set in America’s northernmost city – Barrow, Alaska. It’s a place so remote that it apparently hasn’t seen a shipment of crosses or wooden stakes in years. What it does have is an Arctic night that lasts a month and an increasing population of mutilating vampires walking the streets.

You can see how those two kinda work together. So when the lights go down on this sleepy little town, there will be blood. Plenty of it - from gunpoint, fang-point, axe-point, or whatver you want to name.

Fighting, running, and holing up with other townsfolk are a heroic sheriff's deputy (Josh Hartnett) with two situations on his hands – the vampire attack and his estrangement from his fire marshal wife (Melissa George), who has flown in for some frostbitten reason or another. She misses the last plane out on a flight that really is the last plane out. That sets the stage for marriage therapy on the run.

The vampires arrive with sharp teeth, murderous intent, and bad Slavic, looking for easy pickings and a monthlong feast. Residents take to whatever hidden shelters they find. Although it doesn't appear to affect their diet. They look remarkably chipper and well nourished for spending a month in an attic.

Theoretically the movie comes from a series of graphic novels by Steve Niles, but it seems like a pretty by-the-numbers rendition. My bet is that it hits the high points of the stories and rolls them into a two-hour slot. Necessary. but not exactly creating something that's going to wake the dead.

30 Days is a siege-horror film clone of 28 Days/Weeks Later, only with vampires and snow. But the movie’s sensibility goes for adolescent gore rather than mature dread. While the film gets the premise right, it’s the tone that never sinks its teeth in.

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