Tuesday, October 23, 2007

30 Days of Night review

30 Days of Night is a film that has all the elements of a great movie, but it doesn't come together to reach its potential. That's not to say the film is bad, but its disappointing that there is so much here and it can't deliver on the fantastic, gory and frightening vampire flick it wants to be.

The best thing about this film is the gore, make up, and vampire effects. These feel fresh, and creepy. For the number of vamp films out there its really a pleasant surprise to find a vision so unique and disturbing. The vampires, while inconsistent in character and intent look and kill fantastically. This paired with the truly outstanding set design and cinematography give this story a lot of depth in tone, and a weighty atmosphere.

Unfortunately those alone do not make a good story. This film suffers from a number of problems. Shallow characters mar the film. And this is especially disappointing considering this is a story that has many long character 'driven' scenes, it's just wasted opportunity. Much of this film is spent following the remaining band of humans hiding after the initial vampire attack. They're not fighting back, they're just staying as still as possible. Sure that's probably the smartest thing to do in that kind of a situation, but why would I want to watch a movie where the main characters are actively trying to make nothing happen? Should I root for them, and then get a super boring film. For a huge action-horror film there is surprising little action, or horror. And that latter point is the biggest flaw of this film. It is simply not scary. Its definitely gory, but it just wasn't remotely scary. I'm pretty lenient with horror films, I can look past the plot inconsistencies, and even the lack of strong character; you don't go to a horror film for those anyhow, but I can't forgive a horror film for not being scary.

At one point there's a beautiful panning overhead shot looking down across a few blocks of the town as the vampires are first attacking. It is chaos, destructive, extremely bloody, and surely a total nightmare for any unlucky soul trapped in that fray. That shot gives us 30 Days at its finest. Unruly, chaotic and viceral. But these moments are very few in a movie that falls back on gore to cover the fact that it simply is not scary. What a shame.

30 Days of Night is a film worth renting but unless you're a diehard vampire junkie, you can pass on this in the theater.

1.5 / 5

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