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Movie Review: 30 Days of Night

30 Days of Night
Directed by David Slade
Written by Steve Niles, Stuart Beattie, and Brian Nelson

When a director like David Slade comes out with a movie like Hard Candy, the follow-up is usually something phenomenal.  Movies like Hard Candy are the introduction to the world, and the second film builds on the promise.  Not in this case, however.  While the talent is there behind the camera, Slade has made a boring horror film that’s not even nearly as scary as his feature debut (not a horror film per se).

In 30 Days of Night, the town of Barrow, Alaska is preparing for a month without sunlight.  Many are leaving, including Stella Oleson (Melissa George), who has separated from her small-town cop husband Eben (Josh Hartnett).  On the outskirts of Barrow a stranger (Ben Foster) is coming to town to sabotage all means of escape.

A couple report to Eben that their Huskies have been massacred, another guy complains his helicopter has been destroyed, and the airport is shut down.  In swoop the vampires, quickly coming into the screen and out before you can blink, speaking in a different language, leaving blood beards when they kill.  All led by ubiquitous character actor Danny Huston.  As it becomes apparent that being outside is a bad thing, seven people, including Eben and Stella, hole themselves inside attics and stores, always on the move, trying to figure out how to survive and maybe kill some vampires without being killed themselves.

The movie isn’t very scary; I’ve always hated quick-cut monster attacks.  It’s OK to be fast, as the zombies are in 28 Days Later and its sequel, but in general the horror genre benefits from slow unease.  And people do really dumb things in the film.  At one point one of the characters starts to turn into a vampire, uses his last remaining bit of good to slaughter as many of the creatures as possible with a huge utility truck equipped with a saw on the front, and instead of sawing through as many of these vampires as possible, decides (on purpose) to wreck the vehicle into a house so he can lure a few of them into getting a dose of dynamite.

And there’s a decision made at the end that would be a whole lot cooler in a different movie, and oh yeah, if it made any logical sense at all.  But, if the Academy wants to nominate a horror movie for an Oscar they can start with the cinematography, which is beautiful.  However, as pretty as it is, it’s a disappointing film that doesn’t really build on the premise.  It might as well all be one night, because the monthlong darkness doesn’t factor.  Slade and the screenwriters could have really built something creepy with that, but didn’t.

Sam Loomis’ review of 30 Days of Night.

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