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30 DAYS OF NIGHT

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Movies Eddie McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
30 Days of Night
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30 DAYS OF NIGHT - 2007
Ghost House Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Dark Horse Entertainment, 30 Days of Night
Rating: USA: R

I have read so many bloodsucker books. I've read an enormous amount of Dracula novels, short stories, and even comic books.

I've read an enormous amount of Vampire novels, short stories, and even comic books. I've even read an anthology called 100 VICIOUS LITTLE VAMPIRE STORIES.

I've seen every Bela Lugosi Dracula movie made and even the Mexican Dracula movie that was shot by Universal Pictures at the same time on the same sets. I've watched Christopher Lee as Dracula and I've watched both BLACULA and SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM. I've watched INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and QUEEN OF THE DAMNED. I've watched Francis Ford Copolla's DRACULA and DRACULA with Frank Langella. I've also watched DRACULA 2000. I've watched Vampire movies that dare not speak the name Vampire like NEAR DARK. I've also watched an ass-kickin' chop-socky Vampire called BLADE and liked it. I even gave it three Shriek Girls and bought the DVD. I even enjoyed BLADE II. I even enjoyed Vampire comedies like MR. VAMPIRE.

So let me tell you something with all sincerity: Man am I ever sick to the freaking teeth with Vampire movies. UNDERWORLD was a waste of time and UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION, while slightly better, was still a whiny pissy little EMO vampire flick. ULTRAVIOLET was just the most posturing, poser, pretentious uninspired hack-crap. I can't tolerate gothic romance vampire tales and all of their uncreative dark rococo accoutrements. You can keep yer Vampire from outer space like Vampirella and LIFEFORCE.

Do you see where I'm coming from? Vampire movies and stories in any and all forms have been done to death and back again and any new Vampire stories in books, comic books, "graphic novels", and film are going to be unmitigated turds!

Except...

Tonight I saw 30 DAYS OF NIGHT.

BEST!
VAMPIRE!
MOVIE!
EVER!

This Horror Thriller movie will blow you right the hell out of your seat and I'm not even hyping! 30 DAYS OF NIGHT is not just the best Horror Thriller movie of the year, it just might be the best Horror Thriller movie of the decade. It is certainly one of the best Vampire movies EVER made! Oh wait! I already said that!

MAN! The only thing that kept me from jumping out of my seat and whooping at certain moments was the experienced knowledge of knowing that many of my fellow horror geeks in the theater would shout, "God Damn it Feo! Shut the hell up!"

I get carried away at times, but still: BEST EVER! Better yet, let me tell you why!

30 DAYS OF NIGHT is based upon the graphic novel of the same name, created and written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Ben Templesmith; it launched the careers of both upon its release in 2002. It did this because it brought about an original idea limited by an old myth. Above the Arctic circle, night can last as long as six months, depending on where you are.

Barrow, Alaska is the northernmost town in the U.S., situated at the top of the state of Alaska above the arctic circle where, for one month out of the year, the sun sets for 30 days.

A man stares with terrified expression as he looks at a dark ship, anchored just off-shore. The sun is setting. Then he turns and laboriously makes his way through deep snow drift toward the small town of Barrow.

It is twilight evening. The last of its kind for a long time.

The folks of Barrow are planning for this regular event but not for all of the vandalism that comes about on the last day. Someone or someones are going unseen around the town and methodically cutting Barrow away from the outside world. Cellphones, telephones, Internet, even electricity are cut off. By the time Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett: THE FACULTY, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, SIN CITY) catches the man responsible, there is no turning back. Night has fell and the town of Barrow, population 153, must exist cut off from the rest of the world in freeze-to-death cold for the next 30 days. The vandal (Ben Foster: XMEN: THE LAST STAND) taunts his captors, telling them how much they have to fear but not being explicit as to why.

The why comes soon enough as, under the cover of a month long darkness, creatures almost but not quite human cut a bloody path through the small population of Barrow.

The scenes of carnage are often captured in overhead aerial shots, lending an air of realism to the story, as if we are watching a news event captured for TV.

On the ground the people of Barrow, in all of their many personalities, are deeply well written without decal emotions or motivations. Sheriff Oleson finds himself unwillingly (almost) reunited with his ex-wife, Officer Stella (Melissa George: DARK CITY, MULHOLLAND DR., THE AMITYVILLE HORROR [2005]). They have problems with each other, but its not the typical 'roid rage or snippy snarky one-liner cheap script fluff that have become standard in American Horror movies. The characterization is provided by a script from creator Steve Niles (28 DAYS LATER: THE AFTERMATH), Stuart Beattie (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN [all]), and Brian Nelson (HARD CANDY). All three of these writers have a career history of bringing out realistic personalities and motivations from their characters and plots, and it all shows here.

30 DAYS OF NIGHT is NOT your weepy gothic tragedy of existence type of Vampire movie, although tragedy abounds on the screen. As the two main law officers, Eben and Stella feel responsible for the people of Barrow, but the vampires seem far too powerful to stop.

The vampires are the Brian Lumley style of vampire. They are quick, despise humans, and blur the line between a human society and a bestial pack mentality. The lead vampire, Marlow (Danny Huston: CHILDREN OF MEN, THE NUMBER 23), leads by example among his pack. It's not enough to simply butcher humans, the vampires take great pleasure in tormenting and terrifying their prey, elevating the fear in the people of Barrow to its height before they move in for the kill. Marlow has a cruel philosophy regarding his food and speaks in a language I can't even guess at (subtitled in the movie), dispensing his philosophy as he anticipates his next kill. This could be handled so badly in the hands of far lesser writers (who seem to find no end of employment in Hollywood), as Marlow's sayings could become long-winded shallow monologues. Instead, thanks to actor Huston and the intense direction of David Slade (HARD CANDY), Marlow uses nearly every kill to continually lead and teach his pack. The hunt provides more than food, it bonds the vampires to each other. Marlow will brook no pity for the humans and, regardless of his attachment to any member of his pack, will tolerate no weakness within either.

"That which can be broken, must be broken."

Sheriff Eben rescues as many of the humans as he can within a boarded up building, where they stay for a few weeks. But sooner or later cabin fever sets in and the humans have to move to a new locale. This cannot be done without losing another member of their group to the vampires and that knowledge puts a perpetual edge on even the quietest of scenes.

More intriguing and more terrifying is that Director Slade saves the quietest moments for when the vampires are hunting silently through the streets and on the rooftops. They haven't killed all of their prey. The vampires use some of them to walk through the empty streets of Barrow, crying out for help, as judas goats. To survive the vampire onslaught, the surviving, hiding humans must ignore the cries for help from their friends and neighbors. And they must do this for 30 days.

Mindless idiocies that are often found in lesser, two-bit Horror Thriller movies are ignored here. For example:
1. At no moment will the audience be expected to cheer for or feel remorse for the sad little vampires ("Is this what you call humanity?").
2. No vampire will compare him or herself to one of the valiant humans ("You're like me!").
3. No vampires or humans will throw off a moronic quip or one-liner when off'ing an enemy (Suck on THIS!).
4. No vampire will fall in love with his or her food.
5. No moron will reach out from the dark to put their hand on the shoulder of an obviously terrified friend who thinks they're alone.
6. No cats will hiss or jump out from anywhere for any reason.
7. No vampires will cry over their lot in life. And no humans will be so insufferably stupid as to say, "Look at the way we're killing vampires! We're no better than them!"
8. A renegade vampire won't betray his or her own kind to help the humans.

I imagine that more than a few frat-boy suits worried and wrung their hands over not having these rules of piss-poor film making to crap up 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. Which may explain why, in the body of everything that was done right, two tropes that did make the final cut are:

9. A blurred silhouette of something will pass in front of a character to the crashing sound of loud music or sound effects. This gag was used to good effect when John Carpenter did it for THE THING in 1982!

10. Because this is a Hollywood Horror Thriller movie, there is also the hard and fast rule of the

David Slade, Feo Amante, and Steve Niles
FEO LOVED THIS MOVIE SO MUCH, HE ALLOWED DIRECTOR DAVID SLADE AND WRITER STEVE NILES TO HAVE THEIR PHOTO TAKEN WITH HIM!
YE-AH... THAT'S HOW IT WENT DOWN!

!!!UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT!!!:
Which seemingly must also be obeyed. David Slade didn't obey this rule with his independent film, HARD CANDY but then, that wasn't a Hollywood studio movie.

Read about the UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT (URCA) and find out why this movie got it at UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHE ALERT/30 Days of Night. Be warned, the URCA contains Spoilers.

I was starting to think that, as good a director as Sam Raimi (EVIL DEAD [all], DARKMAN, THE GIFT, SPIDER-MAN [all]) is, he - along with producing partner Robert G. Tapert, was incapable of "producing" a good Horror Thriller movie. His past productions include THE BOOGEYMAN (2005), THE MESSENGERS, and both American versions of THE GRUDGE. Ugh! Not a looker in the bunch! But they came through here with a film that shows amazing clarity and a true artistic knowledge of the boundaries and boundless world of the Horror Thriller movie.

What isn't mentioned in the film, that would have made things even clearer for the audience (revealed in the comic), is the fact that the extreme cold and the inability to sleep for 30 days has also affected the vampires, making their sharp senses dull. This would have added another facet to the hunt, but the lack of this knowledge doesn't hurt the movie. 30 DAYS OF NIGHT hasn't set a new bar. I'm telling you now that 30 DAYS OF NIGHT has become the new bar of the Vampire Horror Thriller. If any movie could suffuse new life into the pasty corpse of Hollywood Horror Thriller, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT could be it.

Whew! I haven't been this stoked about a movie since THE MATRIX!

All five Shriek Girls gang. This one is a modern classic!

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2007 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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