There's a Grammy award-winning Godsmack tune titled "Vampires" that asks the question, "Few creatures of the night have captured our imagination like Vampires...What is it about the vampire myth that explains our interest?"
Whatever the reason, the box office success of Columbia Pictures' 30 Days of Night this past weekend is evidence that our fascination with the ancient blood-suckers is no less prevalent. Bringing the isolation and intensity of a zombie flick to the tried and true vampire formula, this comic book adaptation shows a different--grittier--side to the aristocracy of the night.
Just as Steve Niles' graphic novel marked a revitalization for the horror comic genre, this film adaptation of 30 Days of Night has potential to bring vampires back to the forefront of horror cinema. Could vampires be the new zombie? Now might be a good time to stock up on garlic.
It took the revolutionary 28 Days Later in 2002 to spark what would become a zombie renaissance. The turning of the flesh-eaters from lumbering corpses into speedy infected would pave the way for a sequel, the Dawn of the Dead remake, and the return of the genre's founder to bring us George A. Romero's Land of the Dead.
In many ways, 30 Days of Night is reminiscent of 28 Days Later. With its fast editing, shrieking antagonists, and ample bloodletting, 30 Days of Night takes us beyond Dracula's castle and brings the traditionally brooding vampire into our faces with the frenzy of blood-lust. No longer satisfied with simply seducing a few thralls and giving them a little bite on the neck, these vampires go for the jugular, ripping out the throats of their victims and bathing the sanguine flow. Let me be clear--this ain't no Bella Lugosi movie.
For the uninitiated, let me break down the plot before continuing. It truly is a great work of imagination; one of those ideas that seem so obvious in afterthought that you can't help but face-palm over the fact no one had thought it up until now. The story takes place in the small town of Barrow, Alaska: "The northern most city of the United States." Because the sun sets for a 30-day period each year, a group of vampires decide it would be the perfect opportunity to satiate their thirst without the fear of sunlight doing them in. It's then up to a small group of survivors, including the town's sheriff, Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett), to hide it out until dawn.
The vampires of 30 Days are an odd bunch, to be sure. Lead by the Mafioso-esque Marlow (Danny Huston), it's a varied group unified only by their disturbingly twisted facial deformities, black on black eyes, and shrill shriek. Quite unlike the aristocracy of the Universal Monsters age vampire, but also markedly different from the vampires featured in The Matrix clones Underworld and Underworld: Evolution, they're somewhere between urban chic and Hot Topic denizen. More akin to something you might find in Michael Rymer's Queen of the Damned, their appearance remains in touch with the Jungian elements that made the vampire into the myth it is today, but also updates it with a sharp edge that our modern audiences can still find terrifying.
What really helps 30 Days stand out from the rest is its setting. One wouldn't think to associate vampires with the frozen wastes of Alaska, but the inhospitable locale adds a certain element of unease and most certainly a sense of extreme isolation. Such a setting was used to great effect in such films as John Carpenter's The Thing, and it is no less threatening here. I must say that I'm glad I wore a sweatshirt to this one, as it wasn't long before I too could almost feel the freezing cold of a white-out blizzard.
Were it for just the vampires and setting, 30 Days of Night could probably be considered a classic. However, the human aspect and some odd story choices really brought this movie down at the worst possible times.
Having read the comic before seeing the film, my opinion may be more biased than some, but certain changes to characters and the addition of others became an unintentional distraction. Even so, I also couldn't help but feel certain lines of dialog were either out of place or so low-brow that they could be intended only for the 'mall-goth' teen crowd. As far as the characters are concerned, the human cast is torn between being annoyingly stupid and whiny vampire bait. I swear I couldn't stop wishing that Eben's punk brother would get his neck eaten out. I also find it unfortunate that the roll of Eben's wife was changed so drastically from the comic.
It saddens me that a film with such a terrific plot, beautiful cinematography, and original enemy would be brought down by a cast of unlikable characters, but that does not mean that 30 Days of Night is in anyway a bad movie. It is without question a great Halloween experience and also a refreshing take on the vampire movie. Although not a genre classic like 28 Days Later, I do see this as being a possible inspiration for future vampire films. With a spin-off already being rumored, and plenty of graphic novel sequels to adapt, I think we may have a new franchise on our hands.
Rating: 7 / 10
:: Dead End ::
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For the latest updates on the world of Khyron, bookmark http://www.khyron.net/. With content updated regularly, you're sure to find your fix for all things entertaining and paranormal. As always, feel free to send any questions/comments/suggestions to KFiles@khyron.net.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next K-Files, arriving sometime next week. Later.
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