Posted by: kfugrip | February 26, 2008

The New Wave: comic book films

In order to turn off our brains and maybe get the crap scared out of us we rented 30 Days of Night, directed by David Slade and based on the comic by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith. I didn’t read the comic though I was aware of it and my roommate at the time was into it. I don’t normally go for vampire stories so I skipped it. The concept is very “high concept” and, all kidding aside, something that I was interested in despite hearing the legion of terrible reviews.

For the uneducated, 30 Days of Night takes place in the town of Barrow, Alaska. A town which shuts down for a month during the winter because the sun doesn’t rise for 30 days. The town, now down to 152 people, is descended upon by vampires who begin slaughtering everyone. Our heroes are a group of people who band together and hide for days, hoping to wait out the horror and see another sunrise.

What I liked: Interesting concept surrounded with beautiful photography and production design. My first reaction to the movie was that it looked beautiful. Many of the shots were well composed and expertly crafted. It’s very slick in it’s style, which works. Mark Boone‘s performance is good, as always.

The best parts of the film are all visual. Decapitated man hanging from a swing set, child vampire feeding, the last glimpses of the sun before prolonged darkness, all of these, and more, were the engine driving the film.

What I didn’t like: The movie was too earnest. Every line reading was weighed down with a false sense of emotion that contributed to my inability to care about any of the characters. When you don’t care about anyone in a horror movie you may find yourself hoping that one of the main characters gets killed in the next scene. I did. It’s a great failing when a horror film doesn’t engage me with the main characters. Along with the typical parade of stilted performances there were some mannered ones distracting me throughout. The vampires, while strange to look at and nearly unable to communicate, were a broken record of screeches and Daniel Huston’s interpretation of the lead vampire was creepy but it wasn’t enough to create tension for me. In fact there was very little tension in this film for me and each scene seem to have a tension signifier (like keeping quiet while hiding, existing in a world filled with shadows, etc…).

In horror movies the characters should act as logically as possible. As an audience member I need to feel like the characters are smart enough to survive and, equally as important, there need to be rules that the characters, protagonist and antagonist, should follow that allow me to believe that the hero’s victories are honestly won. Having said that, 30 Days of Night was riddled with holes in these areas. While the characters behaved in a realistic and believable manner most of the time, there are moments that take me out of the movie because they seem illogical. Also the rules aren’t always adhered to. If a vampire can smell people’s blood in one scene then why can’t they track someone easier. Some of these questions can be explained but as they mount the plausibility is stretched too far.

2 stars

30daysposter.jpg

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Responses

  1. BOO! This movie sucked, except for that one vampire, who looked like Rick Ocasek.

  2. Is seeing the commercials for the DVD good enough to say Ive seen it?


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