Comic Book Movies 101: 30 Days Of Night

30 Days of Night is a film adaptation of the excellent graphic novel by Steve Niles. The film surrounds the Alaskan town of Barrow which, due to its geographical location, falls into nightfall for a full thirty days once every year. Sadly for the good folks of Barrow there is a group of very hungry Vampires about to arrive and cause some disruption to say the least.

The graphic novel itself is a short, sharp affair to say the least but for some reason the producers of the film have decided to ignore that. Clocking in at a quite unbelievable 105 minutes, the narrative goes into a prolonged coma following the initial attack of the Vampires. The centre of the film is taken up with the survivors hiding in lofts and a great deal of chatter about nothing. The hostile vampires seem less than intelligent as simply burning down the houses one by one would solve this problem. Instead they stand around shouting at each other, perhaps hoping that this will somehow entice the humans out to the slaughter.

The cast is lead by Josh Hartnett and modern scream queen Melissa George. An astounding lack of chemistry is all they can bring to the table as they fumble about the town from one boring scenario to another.  The one saving grace of the film is the design of the Vampires themselves who are loyally taken straight from the pages of the novel onto the screen.  The lead Vampire, Marlowe, is played with fantastic menace by Danny Houston. Moving with pure evil purpose around the town, Houston is captivating and brings the only aspect of terror to what should have been a horror film.

The opening of the films remains its strongest part as we build up to the inevitable slaughter that follows.  As people and animals start to go missing a strange man goes a little crazy at the local bar before being thrown in jail. He informs the sheriff of the nightmare that his coming his way only to be ignored. The initial arrival of the vampires has much punch to say the least as the residents are mowed down without exception.  It’s following this initial flurry of rather decent film-making that everything goes a little wrong to say the least. My feelings for the film hasn’t changed since I first saw it at the cinema and I still struggle to fathom what the writers where doing. After an opening third that is punchy and at least forward moving, everything goes totally to pot. We are then left to sit and hope things come to an end sooner rather than later.

The book itself movies the action beyond the town to a growing world conspiracy and it seems almost unfathomable why the producers ditched this in favor of endless dialogue about a failed relationship.  As much as I love Melissa George as a modern day scream queen, any dialogue given to her should be kept to a minimum at times and allow her to unleash both her scared face and screaming which is top notch.

As an adaptation the film is a total disaster and as a standalone project to be assessed on its own merits the film is mostly poor at best.  A combination of excessive running time and weak acting provide the death nails for this forgettable entry in the Vampire genre.  Should producers and writers ever get around to faithfully telling the story of 30 Days of Night then we might be in for something truly spectacular. Until then this snooze fest is one to be avoided, especially if you’re a fan of the original novel.

Aled Jones

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