30 Days of Night (2007)

I went back and re-watched this movie because I remember liking it when it first came out, and I wondered if it was still good eight years later. What made this movie stand out in my mind as being good? What might I have missed because I was preoccupied while watching it the first time? What might have gotten muddled with the sequel and other derivative material?

The basics of this movie are pretty straight forward. A horde of vampires descends on a very isolated town in Alaska during the dead of winter. There is a white-out storm approaching, and the town is supposed to be so far North that they will literally get no sunlight for 30 days straight. The first time I saw it, I though, "Yes, this makes sense. Vampires have one major obstacle they have to overcome, and they can do that for a large part of the year in a place where the sun sets and doesn't rise for a long while." This only holds up until you think about the converse. There is going to be a month in the middle of summer when the vampires can't come out at all.

First, they send in their lackey, played by Ben Foster. You might remember Ben from supporting roles in a whole heap of movies like The Mechanic, Pandorum, 3:10 to Yuma, Hostage, and The Punisher (the 2004 one, not the more infamous Dolph Lundgren one from 1989). His character is a normal human (with a desperate need for a dentist) whose sole responsibility is to get the town as cut off from the rest of the world as possible before the vamps swarm in. He disposes of satellite phones, kills sled dogs, and is generally a jerk to communications and transportation.

He lacks social graces that you would want in a lackey, so he gets arrested my Josh Harnett, the local town sheriff. Josh along with his estranged wife played by Melissa George and the actual deputy played by Manu Bennett are the only line of defense between the defenseless townspeople and the fierce coven. So, their plan is a simple one - abandon most of the people in the town to their own devices and hide in some guy's attic. I'm not saying it isn't a fairly alluring plan, but it does have the drawback of letting over a hundred people die. This may go against any oaths that have been taken by the peace officer/hero.

Mark Boone Junior is here supporting this cast before he was inducted into the motorcycle gang for the Sons of Anarchy. He's the town outsider. Imagine a town full of outsiders, and THIS guy is their outsider. The problem is that his character is used as a filler for plot holes, so we don't actually get much from his recalcitrant nature.

Bad things happen, one plan leads to the next, and there is a lot of playing things by ear that goes on. Danny Huston is the leader of the evil vampires, and he seems an odd choice. You may remember him as Stryker in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He's a strange looking vampire, and not nearly as intimidating as he needs to be. You want intimidating, you need Andrew Stehlin as Arvin, one of the pack. That guy looks scary.

Acting was good
Story was not bad
Dialog was mediocre
Effects were good
Tension was high

Bottom Line: It lacks some of the impact that it had the first time I saw it, but it managed to convey a style and an intensity that a proper gory horror movie should.

3.5/5

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