Archive for the ‘Josh Hartnett’ Category

MOVIE: 30 Days of Night (2007)

March 6, 2008

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.

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