MOVIE: 30 Days of Night (2007)

Man, I REALLY wanted to like this movie. Not just because it was a horror flick about vampires, and I usually loves me some good blood-suckers, but because, wonder of wonders, it’s actually set in BARROW, ALASKA which is, believe it or not, the place my husband’s been instructed to spread my ashes after I die.

The reasons why I want to spent eternity in Barrow are both extremely complicated and ridiculously weird, so I’ll keep them to myself for now. Suffice it to say, however, that given the intriguing combo of my eternal resting place, vampires, and Josh Hartnett with unruly facial hair, I was fully expecting to have a good time with this one.

Unfortunately, it only took one look at the vamps themselves for me to realize I was in for a boring, unoriginal ride, and from there, things pretty much went from dull to stupid with astonishing speed. Now, granted, I was on cold medicine while I watched this movie — it was day one of what turned out to be a hellacious attack of the flu last week. Nevertheless, I can’t imagine a little DMX really had THAT much of a brain-blearing effect. In other words, if you WANT to pretend I hated your favorite movie because I was high on cough syrup, feel free; I’ve given you the perfect “out” on this one. But secretly, just between you and me, I hated your favorite movie because it was a stinkin’ pile of stolen ideas, lame ideas, and just plain ol’ BAD ideas. Man, I hate it when that happens.

This movie, as I said, is set in Barrow, AK, which is one of the Northern-most cities in the U.S. Because of its latitude, every winter it experiences thirty full days of darkness. And look out, because here comes Dumb Element Number One: during those 30 days of darkness, we’re told in the first act, no planes can fly in or out of the town. Because of winter storms? No. Because of an electromagnetic field turned on by the failure to enter the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 into an ancient Apple II computer? No. Because airplanes don’t have headlights? Um, no. Because. . . yeah, see? Why WAS that, exactly?

But let’s move on.

Barrow sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Harnett) is making the rounds before the sun sets when he’s called to investigate three bizarre crimes. The first appears to be a vandal’s pile of burned-up cell phones — weird. The second, a bunch of dogs that have been slaughtered — yikes. And the third, another act of vandalism, this time the destruction of a local man’s helicopter. Dang, wonder if IT had headlights? Curses!

Meanwhile, Eben’s estranged ex-wife, Stella (Melissa George, who I’ve hated since Alias Season Three, I might add), has just missed the last flight out of town and is now stranded in Barrow until the sun comes back on. Thus exposing at long last the real reason why planes can’t fly in and out of Barrow during its thirty days of night — because we needed an excuse, however ridiculous, to keep the contentious lovers together so they could fight evil, kiss, make up, and then have their love be sacrificed for the greater good.

Now for the beginning of the very, very silly parts. Despite the fact that, theoretically, vampires have been around since the dawn of man (or at least the dawn of Bela Lugosi, which is almost just as long, I think), it’s apparently taken them until now to figure out their deadly reaction to sunlight might make the Northern latitudes a great place to chill during the winter. As the movie opens, a gang of them has finally made the trek to Barrow and, while the sun sets on the small town populated with just enough people to feed them for approximately two days (mrrruh?), they begin settling in. Forty-eight or so hours later, there are only about six people left in the entire town and, led by Eben and Stella, they hole up in an attic and try to come up with a Plan B.

Plan B takes about 28 days to work out and involves, at least at one point, “Grandma’s grow lights” (which definitely gave me a chuckle, I will confess). Oh, and how do I know it took them about 28 days to come up with the plan? Why, by the fact Josh Harnett starts out in the attic clean-shaven and then, about five minutes later, has turned into Charles Manson.

All of this could’ve been really fun, of course — I may be harshing on the storyline a lot here, but you KNOW I still could easily have loved it if it was at all possible for me to. But then I got a good look at what our heroes were up against, and the disappointment! Was absolutely crushing!

As Stephen King once said, “Belief is the root of all fear,” and that was one of my biggest problems with this movie. The vampires just aren’t scary at all. In fact, you know what they look like? They look like Vulcans from Liverpool, with pointy features and extremely bad teeth (seriously, guys, just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you can stop flossing!). And that’s just not terrifying, I’m sorry.

In my opinion, one of the best things about vampires as horror movie creatures is the fact they used to be human before they were monsters. You know why the scariest movie vampires I have ever seen were the ones in the movie Near Dark? Because they looked JUST LIKE Bill Paxton and Lance Henrikson! They looked like the guys living in the trailer a few doors down from yours, until they bared their fangs and took a big juicy bite out of your neck. There’s nothing scarier than that to me. Monsters that look like monsters and speak in some dumb monster language? Not only stupid, but also BORING.

And besides which, how are the new vamp recruits picking that up that language so fast (because they were clearly picking up new recruits as they went, as evidenced by the fact Big Kahuna Vamp told them to curb that behavior as soon as they got into Barrow)? Is Vamp 101 one of those new foreign language podcasts on iTunes or something?

The end of this movie features what I guess I’ll concede is a somewhat original “twist,” and I appreciated the fact the final shot took us full circle (the story opens with the sun setting, and ends with it rising). The problem with it was that we were supposed to feel emotional about the sacrifice-that-shall-not-be-named-here in the final moments, and I just didn’t. I never really cared about any of the characters or their plight. I was too busy being annoyed that every time the vampires attacked, the filmmakers turned on the shaky-cam, as though the vampires were infected by the rage virus from 28 Days Later in addition to being Count Chocula’d. Enough, already!

All in all, a bitter experience, I will confess. That said, I still really like the IDEA of this flick, so I think my next move should be to rent John Carpenter’s The Thing and then flip through the 30 Days of Night graphic novel while I watch Kurt Russell actually kick some real monster-ass in the snow. I’ll let you know if that does the trick.

Incidentally, I was just trying to add a link from Lance Henrikson’s name to his Boyfriend of the Week write-up and was astonished to discover there doesn’t appear to BE a Boyfriend of the Week write-up for Lance. Holy oversight, Batman! I’ll try to remedy that posthaste. Best face-creases this side of Tallahassee, and not only that, the man’s made no fewer than three — THREE — movies about Sasquatch. It just doesn’t get any better than that, my friends.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Horror
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Ben Foster, Danny Huston

Tags: , ,

5 Responses to “MOVIE: 30 Days of Night (2007)”

  1. Liz Says:

    Okay, I saw this movie today, and although I was not as crazed with anger as you evidently were, Meg, I was not scared, either. I didn’t think it was really a BAD movie, just bewilderingly un-horrific. I thought the set-up was promising (I just sort of accepted the whole airplane thing – sometimes, I think you just have to), but I was upset about the dogs. I mean, kill people all you want, but when you mess with animals, I GET UPSET. I still can’t bring myself to see “Cujo,” and I love Stephen King; the poor dog was SICK, for pete’s sake!

    Anyway, I knew the vamps were going to have their own language, but they never got into it, explained it, or gave any background for it – phooey! Some of the murders were somewhat effective (i.e. the guy’s head on a pole), but the blood and gore didn’t even phase me. And I agree, the vampires weren’t all that scary – a little creepy, I’ll grant you. Now I can’t be sure that that’s not just because I’m jaded, or that it just wasn’t presented in a very scary way. See, I’m trying to make allowances here for this movie!

    All in all, I came away a bit let down, but not completely crushed. After all, I’ve seen worse – but that’s not exactly a high endorsement for a movie. Good concept – not taken advantage of very well! BTW, that Melissa George reminded me of Virginia Madsen!

  2. megwood Says:

    “Crazed with anger”? Really? I guess I’m not as funny as I thought I was!

  3. Liz Says:

    And I guess I’m not, either! I was trying to make a joke – only that I thought maybe you disliked the movie more than I did! Please tell me what you thought of what I wrote – I didn’t mean to offend you. And I didn’t think the movie was any “great shakes!”

  4. megwood Says:

    Oh good — I was just hyper-aware that the other day, I put up two posts back-to-back that really harshed on their subjects (this one and the one about New Amsterdam), and I got a little concerned there that people might actually have read them and thought I really WAS angry, which would imply that I take this stuff way too seriously. In reality, I enjoyed “30 Days of Night,” I just thought it was a bad movie and a disappointment because I went into it with higher-than-normal expectations.

    And dude, you totally can’t offend me, so no worries!!

    By the way, King HAD to kill Cujo at the end of the book/movie — it was the only merciful thing to do once the poor fella had rabies. Be mad at the infected, chompy bat instead — it’s the one ultimately responsible for the death of the big doggy. šŸ˜‰

  5. Kudzu Says:

    I liked it but only cos of Danny Huston who is made of awesome (and hot). The rest sucked…..pardon the pun.

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