When was the last time a vampire movie actually frightened anyone? The “Blade” trilogy, along with “Underworld” and “Underworld: Evolution”, transformed vampires from monsters into action stars. Director David Slade returns vampire movies to their proper form in “30 Days of Night”. This adaptaition of Niles and Templesmith’s graphic novel gives the audience members long periods of suspense intertwined with succinct bursts of terror. Believability, skillfully shot scenes, and mediocre acting, all contribute to creating the top horror movie of 2007. The “30 Days of Night” refers to the month of darkness the town of Barrow, Alaska experiences each year. The town’s airport closes down during this part of the year and most of the towns’ people leave during the last day of light. During the last day of light, Barrow’s Sheriff Eben (Josh Hartnett) receives several calls involving vandalism and pranks. As the crimes become more severe, the town enters into the month of darkness. The moment the “30 Days of Night” begins, it becomes apparent that the crimes will serve there intended purpose. Now the citizens of Barrow need to worry about surviving the dark and the creatures that it brings.
It is not uncommon to be left confused about actions performed by characters in horror movies. This notion becomes more prevalent when the horror movie involves supernatural creatures. Many questions are usually raised like, “Why didn’t they call someone? How does a small town cop turn into an Army Ranger? Can creatures, supposedly alive for thousands of years, really be outsmarted by someone with a high school or college diploma?” “30 Days of Night” addresses any issue that could potentially be raised about the likelihood of the events being portrayed. This consequently leads to a realistic, believable vampire movie, which in itself is unbelievable. Horror movies become more terrorizing when the audience believes that the events unfolding on screen could actually happen. This realistic approach is supported by David Slade’s shot choices throughout the film.
In the beginning of the film, Slade incorporated many shots of Alaska’s landscape. The screen gets filled with the land covered in a never ending blanket of snow. Once the month of darkness started, the majority of the shots were confined within the town walls. The transition from shots covering a vast area of land to shots restricted to the town, made the towns people seem trapped. Another choice that came across wonderfully on film involves the progression of gore. In the beginning of the movie, animals are murdered in a fashion resembling the shower scene from Hitchcock’s masterpiece “Pyscho.” Slade decided to show the animal, then the knife, the blood splatter, and then the dead animal, without actually showing the animal being stabbed. As the movie progresses the intensity of the gore is heightened. Many horror movies try to fill the film with as much gore as possible. This abundant amount of gore makes the scenes loose there intended effect of shock. By the gradual progression of gore, the scenes towards the end of the film do not loose there effect. The acting in this film is mediocre, but acting does not affect the overall outcome of a horror movie.
Hartnett and Melissa George play married crime fighters in this film. In real life Hartnett is a seasoned actor and George is a horror movie regular (appearing in “Touristas” and “The Amityville Horror” remake). They both successfully portrayed their characters in an appropriate fashion. Past these two, the acting was sub par. So what? “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “The Nightmare on Elm Street”, and “Friday the 13th” are three of the greatest horror movies of all time. The majority of the actors in these three films were awful. Anthony Hopkins is the only horror actor whom has ever won an Academy Award for best actor. Acting has never been and never will be part of creating a successful horror movie. The lack of acting in no way shape or form diminishes the entertainment value of this film.
David Slade directed only two films (“Hard Candy” and “Do Geese See God?”) prior to directing “30 Days of Night.” With “Hard Candy” and “30 Days of Night” Slade accomplishes creating legit scenes of suspense and terror. If Slade continues directing horror films of this quality, he could become this generation’s version of Wes Craven. Halloween is only a few weeks away, so spend one night watching “30 Days of Night” because it is the only big screen horror experience worth seeing this season.
Tom Pittman is a fourth-year student majoring in Psychology with a minor in Mathematics.. He can be contacted at email@example.com.