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USA 2007
Directed by
David Slade
113 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Andrew Lee
3 stars

30 Days Of Night

Synopsis: Barrow, Alaska, is the northernmost town in the USA. In the middle of winter it is night for 30 days. Most people leave town with only a few remaining to keep things ticking over until daylight returns. They’re the lucky ones, as a coven of vampires has worked out this is the perfect killing field and set about gorging themselves on the hapless inhabitants.

Vampire movies haven’t been this good for a long time. After Anne Rice took the genre into the realm of tortured bisexual emo kids it’s been hard to take the little suckers seriously as a threat. Blade (1998) gave us euro-trash villains trying to take over the world, but the danger from them wasn’t that they could rip your throat out and kill you, they were more sneaky than that. Here there’s no such issue. The vampires are ready to feed and in fine old-school style the villagers have to survive for 30 days without getting caught by them. 30 Days Of Night is a tense thriller, a survival story in which people are thrown into an extreme situation with a vicious and intelligent threat stalking them.

There are amazing set-pieces here. A god’s-eye view of the town as the vampires massacre everyone they can find is stunning. It raises the stakes as the ruthless and animalistic nature of the vampires is shown in such a monumental way. The vampires are cold, vicious and unsympathetic. Their violence and the fear they induce are pushed hard and there’s plenty of interesting moments illustrating the different ways people try to survive. But across the whole scale from assault to collaboration the vampires with their single-mindedness cut off all avenues of hope.

The performances here are all uniformly good. Josh Hartnett’s turn as Eben Oleson, the sheriff of Barrow, is the most effective. A decent man trying to hold everyone together, he does well as someone who knows he’s well out of his depth but will try anything to keep his charges alive. Melissa George is equally good as his estranged wife, Stella, the two giving us the sub-plot of two people reconciling in the midst of the carnage. Not that anyone is going to win awards for their performances but they do sell us on the terror and the stress and the fear and that is, after all, what a good vampire movie is about.

30 Days Of Night is a bleak and tense ride but for anyone who’s bored with so-called horror that’s more interested in making you pity the villains than fear them it is a welcome and thoroughly ruthless change of pace.




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