Based on a comic book miniseries, this one comes to us from director David Slade, who would later go from vicious to sparkling when he would direct 'Twilight: Eclipse' in 2010. Although there's nothing about that series that particularly interests me, it is interesting to know that this movie comes from a seemingly flexible director. The vampires in this movie are not at all romanticized, and are vicious, blood-thirsty creatures of the night - just the way I like 'em!
Taking place in the town of Barrow, Alaska (restored to its original Iñupiat name, Utqiaġvik, in 2016, thus somewhat dating the film), the townsfolk are setting up for their annual "30 Days of Night", when there is a month-long polar night. While this is going on, a random stranger (Ben Foster) comes to shore and takes out the town's communication and transport services, somewhat trapping them all. Meanwhile, the town's sheriff, Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) is facing the consequences of his estranged wife, Stella (Melissa George) missing her flight, and having to stay the 30 days.
A group of vampires, led by someone named Marlow (Danny Huston) is connected to the mysterious stranger, and when he sabotages everything, they launch a vicious attack on the town. Soon, Eben, Stella, Eben's brother, Jake (Mark Rendall) and a handful of others find themselves hold up in an attic, hiding from the bloodsuckers. But how long will they have to hide when this group of vampires is basically immune to the cold and don't have to worry about sunrise anytime soon? Considering this whole polar night thing is very real, it sort of surprises me that this concept wasn't thought up sooner. Why wouldn't a hoard of vampires take advantage of a place where the sun won't rise for a month? I've always really liked the whole concept here.
The film is very middle-ground according to other critics. At worst it's considered a waste of great talent, at best, it's an original and clever concept. I happily lean towards the latter, and find it to be sincerely underrated as a scary vampire film. For as "horror" as vampires tend to be, it seems to be rather rare for them to be portrayed as true monsters as opposed to something more romantic. But while so many prefer that vampire with class, I personally love the vicious, inescapable, blood-thirsty creatures, and this movie certainly has them. At times, sure, it feels a bit over-the-top, but it's a great gorefest for anyone seeking the more animalistic side of these creatures.
While it doesn't entirely escape my criticisms, I can't deny that I have a lot of fun with this one as a horror movie. Certain things I don't like about it, however, include a hell of a lot of ear-piercingly noisy shrieking, and it's one of those movies that's quiet one moment, loud the next. You know, the kind of movie where you crank up the volume just to hear someone speak, but soon that's followed by an action sequence that suddenly makes your house vibrate. It's a big pet peeve of mine, although I do understand that it has to do with mood-establishment. Still though, it's irritating.
On the other hand, the film is very dark and cold in its tone and sets the mood for an inescapable town of horrors. The vampire designs are pretty decent and creepy-looking, and it carries with it an atmosphere of dread through its entirety. I also have to give it up for its ending, which I certainly didn't quite see coming. It's actually pretty badass, if you ask me. So while it's nothing that's about to become an annual Halloween tradition, or even something I've gotten into as a series, I do enjoy this one as a horror fan who's more into the animalistic vampires than the more, shall we say, classy ones. I'd recommend it to anyone with similar tastes in the vampiric horror subgenre.