Film discussion

Throwback 10: 30 Days of Night

There hadn’t been a big cinema release for fans of vampires to sink their fangs into for a while before 2007. 2003 saw the release of Underworld, the first of the vampires vs. werewolves series staring Kate Beckinsale as sexy vamp, Selene. The success of that led to a sequel a few years later (followed by a prequel and further sequels…) But since the new millennium there hadn’t been much to get the garlic and Holy Water out for. That was until the release of 30 Days of Night.

Based on the comic book series of the same name, 30 Days of Night is set in the Alaskan town of Barrow, which is preparing for its ’30 Days of Night’, a yearly period during winter when there is a month long polar-night: no sun for 30 days. When the towns transport and communication to the outside world gets sabotaged, Barrow’s Sheriff Eben Olesen (Josh Hartnett) investigates and finds out that not only is it the fault of a downtrodden looking stranger (Ben Foster) that mysteriously arrived in town but that his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George) missed the last plane out of town and must stay in Barrow for the 30 days.

Later that night a coven of vampires, led by powerful vampire, Marlow (Danny Huston), attack Barrow, slaughtering and killing nearly every member of the small town. However, Eben, Stella, Eben’s younger brother Jake (Mark Rendell) and a few other survivors find shelter in an attic in a boarded up old house. Safe for now, they must find a way to get supplies and possibly even attempt to fight the vampires as it’s only a matter of time before they could be found and killed by the deadly coven.

Released to mixed reviews, it was never going to be everyone’s cup of blood but for fans of vampires and horror fans in general, 30 Days of Night was the best big horror release for a while, with some on various horror fan sites and social media pages claiming it to be one of the best vampire films of all time and although it might be a bit of a stretch to make that type of claim, you can see why fans hold it close to their hearts.

The idea of a town being literally in the dark and freezing cold for an entire month leaving them open to attack from the vampires gives a feeling of inescapable terror and is obviously a strong base for the film and with it being based on a comic book series, the characters are there, they just needed a strong cast and director to bring them to life.

David Slade made his name directing music videos for the likes of Muse, Tori Amos, System of a Down, Stone Temple Pilots, David Gray and Aphex Twin. His first feature film was 2005’s brutal revenge thriller Hard Candy, staring Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson in which he showed he wasn’t afraid of making the viewer wince or feel uncomfortable. So a natural choice for a full-on horror, then! And he didn’t disappoint, offering plenty of tension, jumps and gore for audiences to enjoy. The gushing blood looking particularly beautiful, for want of a better word maybe, on the snow filled streets of Barrow, an overhead shot through the town littered with blood and dead bodies as the vampires attack being particularly effective.

And a scene in a house between a husband and wife offers little dialogue, just fear and tension building until a vamp suddenly jumps through a window, smashing the glass and dragging the woman outside leading to an exciting but ultimately doomed chase from the husband. It’s moments like these that possibly led to Slade directing episodes of Hannibal, Breaking Bad and Black Mirror, among others.

With Josh Hartnett and Melissa George on board as well as seasoned actors like Ben Foster, Danny Huston and Mark Boone Jnr., the cast is a strong one too and despite the ending maybe being divisive for some as it was  pretty bleak (although bleak endings can be just as effective as happy ones sometimes), 30 Days of Night was still popular enough to spawn an inferior, lower budget sequel, Dark Days and a prequel mini-series, Blood Trails, which was available to watch on horror site FEARnet.com, ensuring it’s status as a solid entry in the vampire genre.

Are you a fan of 30 Days of Night? What’s your favourite vampire movie? Let us know.

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