30 Days of Night

Steven Berger

In the small town of Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost town on the North American mainland, the sun sets and doesn’t return for 30 days each year. A month of darkness proves the ideal setting for a roving band of vampires, who begin terrorizing the town as soon as the last light fades. Town sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) must keep a level head and try to protect as many of the town’s residents as he can, with the help of his separated wife Stella (Melissa George) and the likable brute Beau (Mark Boone Junior). Isolated from all outside contact, 30 days is a long time.

The only accurate label for 30 Days of Night is “extreme gore.” Women, children, and animals are not spared. These are not your seductive, well-educated, two-clean-holes on the neck vampires – these vampires’ faces are always covered in blood, and you see exactly where it came from. The squeamish will find themselves clenching their necks, just to be sure no imaginary vampires have access.

Hartnett was well-cast as the sheriff, who is ultimately convincing and sympathetic. The vampires are totally ignored as characters, and rather move together as a fearsome unit. Their leader (Danny Huston) rallies the vampires in disgusting vampire-tongue occasionally, but vicious howls usually suffice for bloodsucker to bloodsucker.

The arctic town setting provides some beautiful imagery for director David Slade, who never misuses the striking contrast of blood and snow. One particular overhead shot of the door-to-door carnage across the town is both gruesome and stunning. Brian Reitzell’s eerily immersive score contributes greatly to the already distinct atmosphere of Barrow.

Thirty days is an awfully long time to hold off a platoon of super-strong vampires, however, and at almost two hours the film is a bit too long. Luckily, the suspense is jarring and the action is satisfying, so the run time isn’t important, though perhaps a minute or two devoted to the vampires’ back story would have been welcome.

For a nice break from mindless zombies, 30 Days of Night delivers. Any horror fan will appreciate this blood-soaked adaptation of a blood-soaked graphic novel.

-Steven Berger