Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Archive for June 28, 2011

30 Days of Night: Dark Days **

Taking place a year after the Alaskan town of Barrow was decimated by vampires during the annual month long darkness. Stella Oleson (Kiele Sanchez) has spent her time since the attack trying to convince the world of the truth about what happened at Barrow and that vampires exist. She is met with scepticism and laughter wherever she goes. After a meeting in L.A. where she turned ultra violet lights on the audience and burned up a couple of vampires Stella is cautioned by FBI agent Norris (Troy Ruptash) who warns her to stop her crusade. Upon returning to her motel, Stella is met by Paul (Rhys Coiro), Todd (Harold Perrineau) and Amber (Diora Baird) who introduce themselves as vampire hunters. They inform her that the vampires who attacked Barrow were instructed to do so by Lilith (Nia Kirshner) who happens to be in L.A… Blah, blah, blah…

After a series of action set-pieces where first Paul is killed by vampires, then their vampire contact Dane (Ben Cotton) is killed by the now turned vampire agent Norris; Stella decides to take on Lilith and her coven head on.

If you really liked the original ‘30 Days of Night’ you probably won’t like this sequel very much. I liked the original and I wasn’t expecting much of the sequel and was still underwhelmed. Although both movies followed the outline of the Steve Niles graphic novels they are markedly different movies.

Whereas the first movie has character development, good actors, a decent script, a wonderful premise and a good stylish director; this sequel, well, it doesn’t really have any of those. Although to be fair Kiele Sanchez is okay, far better than any of the rest of the cast.

It starts well enough then descends into an action flick where we follow stupid characters doing stupid things. If you’re going to hunt vampires and you know where they are it may be a good idea to do it during the day. Not these clowns, they do all their hunting in darkness. Well, it’s cheaper I suppose. And why do head vampires always look like someone out of an Evanescence video clip?

The SFX is a mixed bag, some of the prosthetics are very well done and some of the blended CGI shots work okay. I think they spent most of the budget on the effects. There are also some pretty good, gory action scenes although some of them though just don’t make sense. It’s established early on in the movie that ultraviolet light kills vampires so no one ever uses it again… They use guns and machetes for the remainder of the movie.

It’s not useless; it’s just not very good. Watch the original or Blade 2 instead.

Quality: 2 out of 5 stars

Any good: 2 out of 5 stars (because I wasn’t expecting much)   

30 Days of Night ****

Barrow, Alaska – Northernmost town in the U.S. Isolated in 80 miles of roadless wilderness. Cut off every winter for 30 days of night. Town Sheriff Eben Olsen (Josh Hartnett) notices some strange occurrences during the last day of sun, cell phones burned, local dogs slain, the town helicopter sabotaged and his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George), the regional Fire Marshall, is stranded in town after missing the last flight out. Eben arrests a stranger (Ben Foster) after he’s aggressive in the local diner; the stranger informs him that “they’re coming” and that he’s a dead man.

The vampires then arrive for a feeding frenzy during the month long darkness. Led by Marlow (Danny Huston), these vampires aren’t sexy, seductive or cool; they’re vicious, brutal and single-minded. It only takes 17 minutes into the movie before the first attack, quickly followed by another and another on the helpless townsfolk “You just keep shooting and they just keep coming”

Eben, Stella and a small band of locals must survive for the next 30 days or perish at the hands of Marlow and his clan of vampires…

Written by Steve Niles from his graphic novel; Produced by Sam Raimi and Directed by David Slade. This movie has some solid credentials and doesn’t disappoint. The original source material has been followed quite closely; I’m a big fan of the graphic novel and Steve Niles has done a great job retaining the sense of dread and isolation. David Slade has done a fantastic job translating the story to the screen. His first feature, Hard Candy (2005) was an incredible debut and he’s followed it up with one of the better vampire movies of the last decade, and there have been a lot of them! Here he focuses on a gripping story of perseverance and survival against the odds; the characters are fleshed out as the movie progresses and their reactions are grounded with real emotions.

The cast are all solid; Josh Hartnett is the best he’s been as stoic Eben. Melissa George and Ben Foster are very good; however the movie belongs to Danny Huston wheneverhe’s on screen. As the lead vampire he’s incredibly menacing, intense and creepy.  

The visuals are beautifully shot and the movie looks amazing; the setting and characters look and feel so cold and real. The movie makers haven’t shied away from bloody violence, the movie is filled with incredibly brutal attacks by the vampires. An original take through a well worn mythology that feels fresh. It is intense, violent, gory, action-packed and great fun.

Quality: 4 out of 5 stars

Any good: 4 out of 5 stars