30 Days of Night (2007) (mini-review++)

(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)

(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)

acting 4

directing 4

effects 4

editing 4

writing 4

SW SCORE: 20

2 out of 5 🐙

++

The simple, clean premises are often the best. I imagine someone thought of this idea before, but I can’t remember ever hearing about it. Vampires staking out localities that have extended periods of night due to their latitude. It’s such an elegant solution. Why don’t vampires just live in those localities? I guess because places at those latitudes also have extended periods of sunlight only so they would have to find a different spot during the sunny times. They could be like the snowbirds; they live in Montreal during the spring and summer and relocate to Florida or other warm weather states for autumn and winter.

The only question I have is that vampires aren’t exactly the most restrained creatures. This model of ravaging villages or towns that go dark for extended periods of time doesn’t seem sustainable. I would imagine the vampires would kill everyone in every village they pass through. Wouldn’t someone catch on? Or if not, wouldn’t the residents of nearby villages flee? I sure would.

Things start well. There is a nice, creepy opening shot of a ship coming into the land. The exposition sets up the situation quickly and efficiently. The vampires get to work right away like they’ve done this before. The vampires disable all the cell phones so the people can’t call for help, and the bastards kill all the dogs because they are somehow a threat or inconvenience to them. I was fine with them marauding a village, but killing dogs is a bridge too far.

I also don’t get why the vampires don’t drain everybody the first night. Again, they aren’t exactly disciplined historically. I guess the only explanation would be that there are too many people for this amount of vampires to consume in one night, so they have to spread it out? Maybe they are watching their figures? This being the case, the movie turns into a siege situation. The villagers try to survive every night, just trying to last til when the sun finally returns.

Unfortunately, this siege feels like a siege on the moviegoer, too. Josh Hartnett and Ben Foster are the best actors in the movie, and they don’t have a lot to work with. The dialogue is clunky and the vampires are kind of comical.

What do I mean by comical? Well, they aren’t the classy, snobby vampires of Anne Rice or Bram Stoker. They are portrayed as barely more than animals, and their savagery is ludicrous. They act like a stupid gang of monsters who laugh at their violence and don’t have any humor. Even their attempts at dark humor fall flat. But they do share the superhuman strength and speed or traditional vampires. This is confusing to me, too, because this isn’t an upscale tourist village or city with modern security. I don’t see any reason why the vampires don’t just break down the doors and have a buffet.

About 18 days into the siege, the villagers find out a way to fight back. When you find out what that is, you’re not going to be very impressed by their detective skills. It’s another example of things that don’t make sense in this movie. I know we’re talking about a fantasy movie, but every universe needs consistent internal logic. If a vampire has superhuman strength, he should be able to break down a wooden door.

2nd spoiler alert: I’m gonna get into the end now. The vampires, as is tradition, are more powerful the older they are. So the leader of this horde is the oldest. This has been proven in earlier scenes. Eben Oleson (played by Josh Hartnett as if it was the last thing he wanted to do) injects himself with vampire blood so he can get super human strength to defeat the horde of vampires. Didin’t they already establish that a young vampire was much less powerful than an older one? So how did a brand new vampire take out the leader? It makes no sense.

In a noble sacrifice, Eben commits suicide by staying outside as the sun finally rises. He would have become animalistic and evil if he had remained a vampire, but because he was brand new, he still had control of himself.

Spoiler over.

I really did love this premise. It had such possibilities. But the execution killed it.

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(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.

(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)

(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so

(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)

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