Movie Review: 30 Days of Night

Recycling material from other horror movies, director David Slade relies more on graphic violence and gore than plot development.

“30 Days of Night,” the new film from former music video director David Slade, takes a well-used horror plot and puts a new spin on it, but his efforts produce mixed results.

“30 Days of Night” is Set in the Alaskan Town of Barrow, Which Endures More Than a Month of Perpetual Darkness Each Year

In real life, Barrow, the northernmost city in Alaska, has non-stop periods of sunshine in the summer months, but the sun sets on this community of 4,500 people in mid-November and doesn’t rise again until late January.

Working from the screenplay from Steve Niles and Stuart Beattie, director David Slade takes some liberties with the truth about Barrow’s unusual cycles of light and darkness; “A Couple of Months of Darkness” probably wouldn’t have looked as good on a movie poster.

Vampires Descend Upon Barrow as the Sun Goes Down

The long stretch of darkness also brings harsh winter weather, so most Barrow residents lock up their homes and businesses and head off for warmer climates. Only Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) and a few townspeople stay behind in Barrow. Oleson’s estranged wife Stella (Melissa George) also misses her flight out of town and finds herself stuck there for a month.

This year, however, a stranger (Ben Foster) comes to town and makes preparations for some hungry creatures of the night to feed on the townspeople. For 30 days, these vampires plan to feast upon the flesh and blood residents of Barrow.

In Typical Horror Movie Fashion, the Vampire’s Curse is Contagious

No matter if it’s a vampire bite or the virus that plagued the characters in “28 Weeks Later,” the victims of these particular flesh-eating creatures can become undead as well after close contact with their attackers. While having the humans for dinner, the vampires carefully destroy what’s left of those bodies to prevent an increase in the vampire population.

“Grindhouse” and “Land of the Dead” Have Done Better With the Same Plot

Earlier this year, Robert Rodriguez directed “Planet Terror,” one-half of the “Grindhouse”movie. The plot was virtually the same as “30 Days,” but Rodriguez threw in some horrific touches, such as replacing a dancer’s leg with a machine gun. Horror master George Romero also had better dialogue and thrills in “Land of the Dead,” a sequel to “Night of the Living Dead” in which flesh-hungry zombies infest an entire city.

The Bottom Line: “30 Days of Night” is Low on Originality

Director David Slade spends too much time on special effects and not enough on plot development. “30 Days of Night” is a gore lover’s paradise, but many moviegoers may crave something more substantial.


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