Set in the far north of Barrow, Alaska, the sun is about to set & won't be seen again in a month, hence the title 30 Days of Night (2007).
Two-thirds of the town's tiny population heads south for the month of darkness. Less than two-hundred remain behind -- two-hundred who will experience something that comes in the cold & the night.
Town sheriff Eban Oleson (Josh Hartnett) is a young hunk whose wife Stella (Melissa George) is leaving him. She intended to head down to Anchorage on the last plane out, but doesn't make it, sticking around to be the film's female lead.
Starting with a series of crimes at dusk, things go from bad to worse as Arctic night descends -- & with the arrival of a family of preternaturally swift vampires. Their speed is obvious inspired by 28 Days Later (2002) though it was much more startling that zombies could be quick.
They've taken out the helicoptor, the cell phone tower, the computers, the lights, & radios. The town is completely isolated when the feeding begins.
Decent acting & cinematography of the unique subarctic setting make this a better than average vampire flick, distinct from most gore horror extravaganzas.
The violence is nevertheless on the level of exploitation, attempting to push the envelope of gore & body count, sometimes imaginatively as in the powerfully grotesque encounter with a preschool vampire child.
The family of head-collecting vampiric creatures have wiped out villages like this one before. They have their own language; they are impervious to pain or cold; they have sharpened teeth for ripping throats. They have strange black eyes, claws, incredible speed, strength, & relentless viciousness. They seem to be a uniquely predatory species not really human, perfectly adapted to their environment.
A small group of survivors is hiding in an attic, trying not to be detected, waiting for the next blizzard which they hope will serve as cover for their intended escape. After a week they need supplies so make a raid on the general store, then head for the jailhouse where they think they'll be safe even if they have to wait out the whole month for the sun to return.
It comes down "the last stand" one day before sunrise, & it looks awfully like the vampires have to win.
This is almost a good film of type, but it's never believable that thirty days pass; it has a terrible sense of time & feels like it all happened in a day or two. And there are many other flaws in story construction that make it difficult to suspend disbelief.
For example, when the town's last living humans discover grampa's ultraviolet plant bulbs kill the vampires, they use them once but then make no effort to keep the lights with them to use a second time. It's like "that film gag is over, now let's move on to the next," rather than an internally consistent or coherent environment that makes any sense.
And then, alas, it ends kind of stupid with a vampire fist-fight, neither believable nor much of a climax.
Still, a decent effort, not just another junky horror film, & the make-up for the distinctive species of vampire is thrilling. And the familial aspect of the vampire clan makes them almost though not quite sympathetic monsters.
It may have needed a lot of improvement in the script, but the acting & photography providing it two out of three ingredients is more than one expects from violent films nowadays.
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