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30 Days of Night

A Vampireís Paradise

Every year in the northernmost town in the world (Barrow, Alaska), 30 days of darkness descends. This uninterrupted darkness presents problems for many and most head south during this period. However, for certain undead, bloodthirsty tourists, Barrow is the undead equivalent of Hawaii with a Sizzler steakhouse on every corner. The question is just how many of the few humans left in Barrow will survive 30 Days of Night.

Director David Slade (Hard Candy) successfully conveys a tone of darkness and foreboding from the beginning when a haggard and disheveled stranger wanders into the town of Barrow. The surrounding landscape is barren, white, and desolate. Barrow feels like the town that time forgot. The fanged ones havenít even arrived and youíre already unnerved. But, the fun has yet to truly begin.

Local police officer Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) finds a pile of burned cellphones. Even more disturbingly, Eben is called out to check out the wholesale slaughter of all the sled dogs in Barrow. In short order, the phones arenít working so well. Turns out some ferociously hungry vampires are in town for a bender and what better place to burn some vacation hours than a town where the sun wonít rise for quite some time.

What ensues is a pretty unrelenting bloodbath as the few citizens of Barrow are picked off by an arguably new breed of vampire that is feral, unrelenting, bloodlusty, and completely devoid of any romanticism. Director David Sladeís vision of these vampires is pretty terrifying and he deserves kudos for his monstrous representation of them. While vampires in film have never really been known to be pretty, Sladeís bloodsuckers are some of the most hideous and disturbing looking creatures that have ever latched onto someoneís neck.

Independent of Sladeís darkly stylized representation of vampires, the story itself while uncomplicated holds up pretty well. Eben Oleson, his brother, and a few other ragtag locals must find a way to hide out until the sun reappears and presumably sends the vampires running for the hills. Needless to say, being stranded in a small town cut off from civilization in bitter cold with few rations and bloodsuckers running amok presents certain challenges.

Sladeís cast (led by Josh Hartnett) do a reasonably believable job of portraying strung out, terrified, and desperate locals who are completely in over their head trying to ward off the undead. Admittedly, not much is asked of Hartnett and the rest of the cast, but they deliver their lines believably and seem sufficiently terrified at the right moments.

30 Days of Night is a refreshingly solid vampire film that easily transcends the Blade films of recent years and is a reminder of just how rich and fun the vampire mythology can be in the right hands. Not since The Lost Boys has there been such a solidly entertaining vampire film. 30 Days of Night is a wonderful addition to the vampire genre and one of the better (if not the best) horror films released this year.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars


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