30 Days of Night (2007)

Genre(s): Horror / Thriller
Sony || R - 113 minutes - $28.95 || February 26, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-03-13


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: David Slade
Writer(s): Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith (graphic novel); Steve Niles and Stuart Bettie and Brian Nelson (screenplay)
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster, Mark Boone Junior


Theatrical Release Date: October 19, 2007


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Stars and Producer Commentary
  • 8 Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
  • "Blood+" Episode 1


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

30 Days of Night takes the premise about a small Alaskan town that literally goes dark for a month. Most of the townspeople leave as they can’t handle it. Of course, things are not so simple for those who remain... A man, simply known as “The Stranger”, rolls into town seemingly out of nowhere with alterative motives and soon after, a band of vampires come in and make the town of Barrows like their personal Hometown Buffet. The only person who can stand in their way, and in the way of the vampire leader (Huston), is Sheriff Eben Oleson (Hartnett) who bands together those who are still living to ride it out and tell those on the outside world what really happened.

Vampire movies have been done ad nauseum, and most of the time with little success. 30 Days of Night is based upon Steve Niles’ graphic novel of the same name and, though nothing about director David Slade’s direction exactly pops (unlike Sin City), he does unveil the story very well. It’s a difficult making a movie where 90% takes place at night, so lighting is an issue and add to that, characters that still are victims to horror clichés.

Like most horror movies, you still get a number of survivors to last an hour plus to give the vampires more to feed off of (it would be kind of boring to see ‘em just hunker down somewhere until the next sunrise). This is standard practice but it’s what happens while they’re getting picked off is what matters, and 30 Days works just enough to make one forget about it and focus on the story and characters.

Josh Hartnett is a bit of an anomaly as a movie star. He’s purposely tried staying away from studio films preferring to appear in indie or lower budget “Hollywood” flicks. Looking over his resume, you see an actor that has shown potential with movies like the underrated Halloween H20, The Faculty (Invasion of the Body Snatchers for young adults), a couple big budget studio movies (Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down), but after those, he’s remained under the radar with the exception of Sin City (with others failing at the box office). But I like an actor such as Hartnett as it keeps him fresh and fairly unpredictable in the roles he chooses. With 30 Days and 30 Nights, he doesn’t give a commanding performance which is not Hartnett’s style, and it suits the role quite well. Hartnett, like his character, isn’t some action hero but has the average guy who must step up to protect those he loves.

30 Days co-stars Melissa George, Mark Boone Junior and Ben Foster as “The Stranger”. Speaking about Foster in particular, he doesn’t look anything like the graphic novel character and as much as I think he’s grown as an actor (check him out in the 3:10 to Yuma remake), he doesn’t do much with his part. Yes, he certainly is kind of scary and makes you uncomfortable in every scene he’s in, but there was something about him that fell short.

Overall, 30 Days of Night, is a great horror-thriller that even while sticking with the genre conventions, is still entertaining as hell. Director David Slade doesn’t have that flair I expect from someone helming a graphic novel adaptation, but he does a fine job building suspense, giving us some interesting vampires (who don’t speak English) and taking a story set almost entirely at night and still gives it dimension.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Stars and Producer Commentary – Actors Josh Hartnett and Melissa George and producer Rob Tapert sit down for a nicely paced commentary that doesn’t get too out of control and with each one getting their say in. It is strange that director Slade was absent as he could’ve provided some more information...

Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes (49:27) – Eight featurettes are included that delve into the making of 30 Days of Night. They range in length from 4 to 7 minutes and go through various elements like Pre-Production, Building Barrow, The Look, Stunts and Casting to name a few. While these are nice, a more coherent ‘making-of’ would’ve been preferred. Also, during the commentary, producer Tapert mentions a couple others (one of them being music) not included here. I’m sure Sony wouldn’t out an unrated edition, right?

Last feature is an episode (20:40) of an anime series called “Blood +”.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Considering most of the film takes place at night, black levels are important, and this doesn’t disappoint, even on an LCD TV like I have. The movie is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 2.40:1 OAR and overall, looks good. Colors are muted a bit with the only “pop” coming from the gallons of spilt/gushing blood.

A Dolby 5.1 track is suitable enough and although I’ve heard better, it’s more than satisfactory for this film. A French 5.1 track is also available along with English, French and Spanish subtitles.



.::OVERALL::.

30 Days of Night has elements of the typical horror-vampire genre, but with a better story and some good talent, it propels itself beyond the clichés and is an entertaining film. The DVD special features are nice but considering this is from Sony, no doubt an extended unrated cut will come out with a couple new extras to entice fans.