30 DAYS OF NIGHT - Mania.com



DVD Review

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Info:

  • Title: 30 Days of Night
  • Rating: R
  • Starring: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster
  • Written By: Steve Niles, Stuart Beattie
  • Directed By: David Slade
  • Distributor: Sony Home Entertainment
  • Original Year of Release: 2007
  • Extras: Audio Commentary, 8 behind-the-scenes featurettes, Blood+ Episode 1

30 DAYS OF NIGHT

Tim's Review for the new DVD of the Niles horror.

By Tim Janson, Columnist     February 20, 2008


DVD Coverart for 30 DAYS OF NIGHT(2008).
© Sony Home Entertainment

When 30 Day of Night first came out in comic form back in 2002, I was only reading comics casually. Still, I kept hearing more and more about the series. The first issue had already escalated ridiculously in value and I didn’t read it until it was published in collected format. My initial thoughts upon finishing the book were that it would make a great movie. The idea of vampires attacking a town near the Arctic Circle that is shrouded in darkness for a month was quite brilliant and terrifying as well.

Barrow is that little, Alaskan town whose population is drastically reduced when the Sun finally sets for thirty days. Most of the inhabitants head for warmer and brighter areas, leaving only the heartiest folk behind. Using a lead lackey, the vampires cut the town off from the outside world…destroying cell phones, knocking out power and phone lines, and killing all the sled dogs. The vampires descend upon the town like death itself, killing every person they can find. Only a small group of survivors led by Sheriff Eben Oleson (Hartnett) and his wife Stella (George), manage to flee the slaughter but will they survive to see the Sun eventually rise?

Great care was taken by director David Slade and his team to maintain the look and feel of the comic book. Slade refers to the look as a “metallic coldness” which is a great description of Ben Templesmith’s unusual sketchy art style. The darkness is overwhelming for the residents of Barrow and their feeling of helplessness is quickly evident. The vampires are not the alluring, seductive type out of an Ann Rice book…these monsters are pure predators, their mouths gape with rows of razor-sharp teeth. They don’t just bite their victims they gnaw and tear at them. Humans are only food to these creatures. Slade went so far as to develop a primeval, guttural language for the vampires, although they speak rarely. Danny Huston is the head vampire and is simply chilling. He’s almost completely emotionless as he leads the vampires through the town. Their look, language, and mannerisms almost suggest the vampires are not former humans, but a different race altogether. 

There is some fascinating camera work in 30 Days of Night. As humans flee down the street we see the vamps following them from the rooftops, stalking them as if it were a game. There are also some great aerial views that simply show the vampires attacking anything that moves indiscriminately, and it puts the wholesale slaughter into perspective. Our survivors move from building to building, trying to stay hidden. This suspense drives much of the middle of the film as they try and figure out their next move.

30 Days of Night is not without its weaknesses. The opening twenty minutes seemed rushed and almost unbelievable that someone could manage to steal and burn the all the town’s cell phones. I mean, I know I’d miss mine if it were gone for more than 15 minutes. The same rather implausible ending from the comics was carried over to the film. This is the one area where I had hoped for something a bit grander. There’s not much character development either. We know that Eben and Stella a re estranged but that sub-plot is never explored in any detail.

As a bit of trivia, Mark Boone Junior who plays Beau, also appeared in John Carpenter’s Vampires, another outstanding vampire film. 30 Days isn’t flawless, but it’s certainly one of the best vampire films to come out in a long time. Return to Barrow Anyone?

Extras

30 Days of night comes with a nice set of extra features. The audio commentary features Hartnett, George, and Producer Rob Tapert. The commentary is very lively and there are none of those uncomfortable periods of dead silence that you sometimes get in commentary tracks. Hartnett not only read the graphic novel but was determined that the film be as faithful to the comic as possible, which is very refreshing. One interesting note that George pointed out is that whenever you can see a person’s breath in the film, it was all created by CGI.

There is an 8 part documentary about the making of the film that can be watched all together or separately. The entire set runs just under 60 minutes.

Some of the more interesting parts include how the vampire actors were instructed how to walk, scream, and attack. They all had to practice that move of leaping on their prey and tearing at their throats. There’s a look at the various prosthetics that were created and the make-up, including a look at the gruesome beheading of the little girl vampire.

As explained in “The Look” segment, the dingy, dark-toned look of the characters wasn’t achieved with make-up, but rather through digital enhancements.

As an added bonus, the DVD feature the first episode of the hit Anime series Blood+

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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ultrazilla2000 2/20/2008 12:24:38 AM
I managed to catch this in theaters, and am looking forward to the DVD...but the movie itself could have been a little bit better. The vampires were cool and VERY violent, but at the same time, they were NOT as scary as they should have been. Hell, almost every time they were on screen, people in the audience were laughing out loud. Why? Because of all the silly noises they made! Their vampire language was cool, but then they'd go around screeching and hissing at each other, and even to themselves! WTF? Especially the bald headed vampy...every scene he's in, he's hissing to himself. Not exactly the silent predator type if you ask me. Not to mention WHY were they hissing at themselves? Were they lonely and that was self reassurance? LOL! In nature, if a creature (cat, snake etc.) is hissing, it's for a reason...not just to pass time. The audience had good reason to be laughing. If only they could take all that out...the movie would slightly rock.
Xenophobe 2/20/2008 1:21:30 AM
I liked this movie but only had 1 major issue with it. Also I am not familiar with the comic so maybe somebody can help here. They have 30 days of night right? So why did they try to feed off the majority of the town in one night? It seemed to fast to me.
Whiskeymovie 2/20/2008 4:28:19 AM
I wasn't one night,,,it was 30 nights,,,Hence 30 days of night.
aegrant 2/20/2008 10:22:19 AM
The movie was above average for a vampire flick - but I don't get the added extra of Blood . That is a totally different vampire story.
tjanson 2/20/2008 12:40:22 PM
AEGRANT...I can tell you why Blood was included...they are both distributed by Sony. Simple as that. I'll have a review of the Blood boxed set coming soon.
Xenophobe 2/20/2008 10:07:12 PM
Whiskeymovie are you retarded or did you not see the movie? The majority of the town was killed off on the first night. Watch the movie.
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