As the winter sun sets over the isolated town of Barrow, Alaska, the residents prepare for 30 days of total darkness. But sunset heralds the arrival of a pack of hungry vampires, who have a whole month to kill.
If you’re used to the vainglorious drama queens that swan around Anne Rice novels, there’s little that will be instantly familiar about the bloodsuckers in David Slade’s riff on the vampire myth. Mouths bristle with pointed teeth, fingers hook into cruel talons and dark, almond-shaped eyes slant aberrantly on faces more alien than human. These are no seductive, porcelain-skinned immortals, but savage, feral creatures that descend upon on a secluded town to rend its inhabitants limb from bloody limb.
Adapted from Steve Niles’ acclaimed graphic novel, 30 Days Of Night boasts something that has long been absent from modern fiction: genuinely frightening vampires. Decades of camp counts nipping at the necks of buxom virgins have long inured people to Dracula and his ilk. But Slade has returned the vampire to its rightful place as lord of Things That Go Bump In The Night.
Fast, brutal and utterly unstoppable, these blanched attackers (led by a deeply unsettling Danny Huston) move with unnatural, insect-like motions, the few words they utter articulated in their own guttural tongue. On screen the effect is nothing short of revelatory, capturing the atavistic horror of ancient folklore and imbuing it with a sense of menace last seen in Murnau’s Nosferatu.
After the initial slaughter, the film settles into a taut game of hide and seek, as Josh Harnett’s sheriff and a band of mismatched survivors do their utmost to remain out of sight and off the menu. Slade resists the temptation of jump shocks, opting instead for a constricting sense of dread that simmers in the background, occasionally peaking with bone-chilling results. One particularly harrowing scene sees a freezing young woman forced to walk through the streets crying for help, the survivors torn between the desire to help her and fear of revealing their hiding place.
The palette is one of midnight black, snow white and deep, arterial red, the latter of which is splashed about with gleeful abandon. Slade made his mark in Hard Candy with its images of DIY castration, and he follows that gruesome spectacle admirably here with graphic decapitations and a messy encounter between a vampire and something resembling a twelve-foot chainsaw on a tractor. And although Harnett and Melissa George’s Stella, his estranged wife, are the sole recipients of anything approaching a back story, the lack of depth never becomes a liability amid the tension.
The only really jarring point is the film’s chronology. The timeline skips forward days at a time with little indication that things have moved on in the interim. The film could just as easily have occupied a single night, although that would negate the undeniably smart premise so that, when dawn finally approaches, the sense of exhausted relief is all the more powerful for the implied wait.
With 30 Days Of Night, Slade has laid the groundwork for a true vampire renaissance. His is a new breed of vampire, one that cares nothing for crosses or garlic and will drag you screaming from your house whether you invite them in or not.
This slick and sticky horror is the most accomplished treatment of vampire lore since Near Dark.
Reviewed by James Dyer
| If John Carpenter was making great films like he used to, this would be the film he would have made.|
If John Carpenter was making great films like he used to, this would be the film he would have made. Instead David Slade directed this feature, he also directed the brilliant 'Hard Candy' (2005). 30 Days of Night is such a beautiful film to watch. You'll be reminded of many wonderful past film experiences like The Mist and the originals 'Assault on Precinct 13' (1976), 'Let The Right One In' (2008) and 'The Thing' (1982), but these classic influences are morphed into an original thrilling mix. ... More
Posted by bleedingcritic at 11:50, 11 June 2013 | Report This Post
seems to be a marmite movie of sorts, but i feel that it is honestly the best vampire movie i've seen. The crisp feel of slade's direction with the unconvential storyline is a powerful match up. Don't go into this movie expecting a fast paced slasher, its far more intellectual and honestly has quite a slow pace but it does have its moments of exhilirating pay off. ... More
Posted by fightclubber954 at 00:16, 12 June 2012 | Report This Post
|Are you serious|
4 Stars Empire? are you serious? I saw this in Australia and thought it was absolutely horrendous. Maybe it was edited differently in England? if it was...you all benefited from it. ... More
Posted by Gazz 10 at 12:39, 17 August 2011 | Report This Post
| RE: True Vampires (if there were such a thing)|
Its good, but not really a patch on Hard Candy. ... More
Posted by ElephantBoy at 14:15, 09 May 2011 | Report This Post
| RE: True Vampires (if there were such a thing)|
Bit late to the party here, had this on DVD for years but only just watched it.
I was quite impressed, some good gore (the head chopping axe incident at the end and the tractor with the chainsaw) and some lovely shots of the town, some suitably creepy moments, great vampires (in particular the head vampire who seemed to walk around with his mouth open all month giving him this added horrible quality (stop catching flies as my Mum would say))
However, most of the characters were completel... More
Posted by jonson at 08:56, 07 May 2011 | Report This Post
|True Vampires (if there were such a thing)|
I love vampire films, and this is as good as it gets. Brilliant acting, full of action, gore, heroes, and more importantly.....vampires, just as they should be. ... More
Posted by claireh123 at 10:10, 29 December 2009 | Report This Post
|Great survival horror|
josh hartnett casts off his heart throb image to take down a few vampires and does a damn good job of it. He never once tries to shirk his responsibility as an officer of the law, even though he looks genuinely disturbed at points
The film is very well made, definitely a cut above most horror films out at the moment. It has the making of a classic in my opinion. I enjoyed it as much a I enjoyed carpenters 'the thing.' which is saying a lot.
Posted by Smootle at 20:45, 08 October 2009 | Report This Post
|Bloody good review, and film to boot!!!|
a great review of what is quite possibly one of the best horror films in recent years. the vampires are viscous and brutal (the head vampire is one of the greatest horror villains in recent memory), and the tone of this film is simply perfect. i do not understand any negativity this gets, it really is wonderful on every level. david slade should be commended for his direction, its superb, and the cinematography is simply divine (the much talked about aerial shot is inspired!!!). BRILLIANT! ... More
Posted by one martian at 23:06, 23 June 2009 | Report This Post
I'm not a horror movie fan but find vampires facinating, this was a great movie, the shot panning over the town was amognst the best pieces of cinemotography that I have ever seen in a movie of this genre before, I was very impressed! ... More
Posted by EdiWan Kenobi at 10:47, 11 March 2009 | Report This Post
Watched it last night on DVD. I switched the heating & Lights off in the house and with it being set in the cold and dark i feel it greatly added to the experience.....
Good movie, very tense and liked that it didnt show you the first few kills in the town, rather left it too your imagination and you could get a sense of the fear that the villagers felt.
Some scray moments, and blood n guts galore.
3.5/5 ... More
Posted by primebhoy at 09:00, 05 September 2008 | Report This Post
Love this film. Everything about it so so good. Still don't understand how some people dislike it so much! ... More
Posted by Joedini at 20:10, 28 August 2008 | Report This Post
| RE: RE:|
It essentially takes a graphic novel with a rather slight plot and pares that plot down even further. There are some nice claustophobic moments but not enough to really elevate it above a mediocre status. ... More
Posted by sanchia at 22:08, 25 August 2008 | Report This Post
Irritating vampires and lazy pacing. Some good moments mind, and well filmed. ... More
Posted by Tank Boy at 05:32, 24 August 2008 | Report This Post
A brilliant adaptation of a fantastic graphic novel, not to mention the first horror film that has genuinely scared me in quite some time. I've never rated Josh Hartnett before - he always came across as a bit of a twat - but he was perfect for this role. And there feral, viscous-bastard vampires are superb. ... More
Posted by muchobenny at 18:41, 11 August 2008 | Report This Post
Not as good as i expected. ... More
Posted by DeppBurtonAlliance at 19:52, 17 July 2008 | Report This Post
| RE: Fang-tastic|
I was impressed, the flaws regarding pacing etc have been mentioned already but I really liked the vampires. I'm a bit fed up of the mooching, romantic types and much prefer the more gutsy, cruel ones from 30 days. The fairly subtle make up that lifts and stretches the eyes and cheek bones worked really well, also their plain clothes grounded them and made them seem like vampires who had come on holiday to really let rip. ... More
Posted by BigKovacs at 15:54, 06 June 2008 | Report This Post
I have to pretty much come down on the side of Empire on this one - this was a brutal, bloody and extremley well made horror with some of the best vampires I've seen on screen.
I mean talk about some truly evil bastards, those distorted faces, the teeth, the shrieks and the savagery of their attacks. The gore was great as well, especially the super head chopping bit which looked way too real!
The way the days sped by was ... More
Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 16:32, 05 June 2008 | Report This Post
This is isnt the best horror ive seen but its allright the story is a little weak but its is very gory and is not for the faint hearted. ... More
Posted by Hedgehog Nolan at 18:57, 21 May 2008 | Report This Post
Entertaining and tons of fun- one of the most visual treats since 300, maybe even sin city. ... More
Posted by blaud at 12:04, 20 May 2008 | Report This Post
|Lucky to get a 2, not even close to a 4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!|
I was so looking forward to this movie, especially after reading Empire's review, i was certain it was gonna be gr8! Didn't have time to catch it at the cinema so rented it last week.
What a load of rubbish! Some bloody/gory shots aside this movie sucked. The story was laughable with no mention of what/where/why these vampires come from (as mentioned by tallaght24) as we have seen in X3 & 3:10 to Yuma Ben Foster is a brilliant actor when given the right material what a waste he was in this ... More
Posted by gareth_082 at 17:55, 10 May 2008 | Report This Post
|30 D of N|
I would have given this a 3 and a half but i cant lol....i thought it was great, the ending did seem a little, "This is the only option we've given ourselves" but it was interesting to see the great vampire myth in a new guise at least in cinematic terms; with their own language and their nomadic marauding nature. It was also pretty scary which in the 21st century, pessimistic age is difficult.
Posted by DanWhite at 22:14, 03 May 2008 | Report This Post
The best vampire film i have ever seen.The gore is superb and is quite scary and jumpy at times.Also i have to say i was never the biggest fan of josh hartnett but watta performance!! ... More
Posted by markryan 086 at 14:54, 23 April 2008 | Report This Post
why do empire keep changing their scores?
in this month's issue this film was rated 3 stars not 4. Similarly, I am legend in the magazine was rated 2 stars rather than 3. how are we supposed to rely on your opinions if you can't stick to your own original judgement? ... More
Posted by jomo999 at 23:17, 22 April 2008 | Report This Post
| Great vampire movie! Lazy Empire|
it would be grest if Empire would stop porting over the reviews from the cinema and review the DVD as a separate film on its own,
a film from the cinema to DVD can change and have less impact or work the other way,its just more of Empire's lazy attitude to DVD reviews.
its time to actually watch the DVD and report it as it is,not just take the cinema reviews and read the back of the discs.
I thought the film was top,and Danny Huston rocks! ... More
Posted by calisto at 13:02, 18 April 2008 | Report This Post
|You've got to be kidding me!|
This film was utterly dreadful. Didn't make alot of sense and had an ending that was quite obviously "uh oh...we've kinda backed ourselves into a corner here..." followed up by a cheap and ridiculous finish. And why did Kenny from South Park decide to drop in for a cameo? Dreadful! ... More
Posted by SLC at 15:46, 17 April 2008 | Report This Post
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