30 DAYS OF NIGHT: DARK DAYS Review (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Review Date: Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Source: Mania

30 Days of Night: Dark Days is the direct-to-video sequel to the 2007 film 30 Days of NightThe key words here are “direct-to-video” which often, but not always, has a connotation of being inferior.  Unfortunately that is the case with this dismal sequel that casts aside everything that made the original so enjoyable to go for a “Blade” style action film.


The Movie

It has been a years since the clan of vampires nearly wiped out the town of Barrow , AK.  Stella Oleson (this time played by Kiele Sanchez) is still grieving over the death of her husband, Eben, who sacrificed himself to save the town.  Of course, no one believes the real story about what happened in Barrow.  Stella is on a crusade, touring the country at various speaking engagements, trying to convince people that vampires do exist.  At one stop in Los Angeles , she rigs the auditorium with ultra-violet lighting, as she suspects the vampires are keeping an eye on her.

This throws the audience into a panic as they see a couple of vampires burn to a crisp, and they run out of the theater.  Stella returns to her motel where she meets some unexpected guests…a trio of vampire hunters: Paul (Coiro), Amber (Baird) and Todd (Lost’s Harold Parrineau).  They have been hunting vampires for sometime and have arrived to recruit Stella.  They plan to assault the stronghold of the vampire queen Lilith, the one responsible for the attack on Barrow.

Reportedly Melissa George, who played Stella in the original film, left the production three days into shooting.  Good move on her part.  Dark Days is a poorly acted and sloppily filmed sequel.  These may be the dumbest vampire hunters ever.  Getting a tip on the queen’s location, they delve deep underground an industrial complex, FAR removed from light or the chance of escape and walk right into a trap.  They lock themselves into a room to “hide” and apparently the vampires get bored and just leave them alone.  Amber blames Stella for the disaster even though THEY show up in her room to recruit her.  No, logic is not one of the film’s strengths.

What made the original so good was the claustrophobic tone.  The people were trapped in Barrow like one of those nested eggs.  They were stuck in town, shut off from the outside world, hiding out in buildings and then hiding out in attics of buildings, just hoping to survive until the Sun returned while the vampires toyed with them like catnip.  None of that suspense is on display as director Ben Ketai goes for action more than horror and that’s the downfall of the film.  Rather than a horror film this is an action film where the protagonists happen to be vampires.

The only intriguing twist was the introduction of the Vampire Queen Lilith but she does little more than stand about scowling with her black eyes.  Apparently she intends to return to Barrow and finish the job which makes little sense when there are certainly many other little towns they could attack without raising the suspicion of a return to Barrow.

Sanchez, whose bulk of her work has been in TV, simply isn’t strong enough to carry a lead role and Parrineau is essentially wasted.  There’s loads of blood that should satisfy gore hounds but 30 Days of Night: Dark Days is a major letdown for the many fans of the first film and comic series.


Blu-Ray Extras

Audio Commentary with Director Ben Ketai and Producer J.R. Young

Graphic Inspirations: Comic to Film – An interactive feature that allows you to scroll through various panels from the graphic novel and click on your controller to see the corresponding scene from the film that features interviews with the Director and writers. There are seven scenes in all to examine.

The Gritty Realism of Dark Days (10:07) – A short, behind-the-scenes featurettes that focuses on the dark and edgy industrialized look of the film including a look at set design and make-up effects. Also features cast interviews.

Mania Grade: C-
Title: 30 Days of Night: Dark Days
Rated: R
Cast: Kiele Sanchez, Rys Corio, Harold Perinneau, Diora Baird, Mia Kirshner
Writer: Steve Niles, Ben Ketai
Director: Ben Ketai
Distributor: Sony Home Entertainment
Original Year of Release: 2010
Extras: See Below
Series: 30 Days of Night: Dark Days