30 Days of Night is based on the graphic novel of the same title, written by Steve Niles. Every winter the town of Barrow, Alaska experiences thirty days of darkness. Many people choose to leave Barrow for the duration of prolonged darkness but some do choose to stay behind. As the town empties disturbing signs begin to emerge showing that someone is trying to cut the town off entirely from the outside world. When the long night sets in a band of vicious vampires, taking advantage of thirty days without the sunlight to burn them, descend on the town to feast upon the terrified citizens. With the vampires having assumed control of the town, a group of survivors desperately attempt to evade them.
Unfortunately I cannot claim to have read the graphic novel on which this movie is based. I had hoped to get the chance to purchase it prior to Halloween so I could review the actual book instead, but alas it was not to be. I really would love to read it as I suspect that many of the things that I like about the movie are all thanks to the graphic novel that preceded it.
Anyone who is feeling sick of the current trends regarding the portrayal of vampires, whether it be in movies or novels or otherwise, should watch 30 Days of Night. The approach to everyone's favourite creature of the night here is wonderfully fresh, taking us back to what vampires were originally intended to be. Remember, even Bram Stoker's Dracula vampires were not originally a sex symbol. While Stoker has an amazing knack for writing in an underlying sexual current, Dracula was not physically attractive and let's not forget that he ate babies! These vampires are not sexy and that is a great thing. They are animalistic and vicious. They are human-like in appearance - until you look at their faces. I think I even prefer these vamp faces to the Buffy vamp faces.
My favourite shot in this movie is when the vampires are launching a full scale attack on the town. People are running, screaming, fighting, and dieing. Gun shots can be heard. The camera provides a bird-eye view over the town and you can see people scrambling, vampires feasting on still bodies, and red blood splattered on white snow. I would not blame someone who had just tuned in for thinking that they had switched on a zombie movie rather than one about vampires. I simply love it. You are not going to find one of these vamps playing "vegetarian", pretending to be a high schooler, and taking teenage girls on dates.
The vampires also have their own guttural language which they speak. I hear that in the graphic novel they speak English, but giving them their own language seemed to add to the sense of how ancient they are and further removing them from humanity. When they did speak in English I loved how cruel they would be, toying with their victims.
The group of survivors is made up of an interesting mix of people, even including a senile elderly man. Their differences make trouble and at times cause tension as they tuck themselves away in their claustrophobic hiding place. Eban's asthma and dependence on an inhaler is also an interesting physical weakness.
IMDb has some interesting tidbits in the movies FAQ section. For example, Barrow is a real place in Alaska and the buildings there really are built on raised platforms. The prolonged nightfall does not occur exactly as it is shown in the movie, however:
Technically, there is a 67-day period during the winter where the sun never quite makes it over the horizon and an 85-day period in the summer where the sun never quite sets. However, it is NOTHING like what was shown in the movie. In the movie, the entire sun was shown above the horizon; then it set one day and light wasn't seen again for 30 days.
What actually happens is that, because of the earth's tilt, the Arctic sun circles close to the horizon rather than traveling overhead from east to west as it does in temperate and equatorial zones. In the Arctic winter, the sun continues to circle the horizon but, over a period of weeks, more and more of it dips below the horizon. On the last day before the two months of night, the sun just barely peeks over the horizon for a few minutes before it disappears. However, this does not mean that the sky is totally dark. The first several nights of no sunlight would have peripheral light around noon, as the sun almost made it to the horizon, but not quite. It would be like the period just before and just after sunset, when the sky is light despite the sun not being quite up yet or just after it went down.
Conversely, on the first day of sunlight at the end of the long night, the very tip of the sun pops over the horizon again and, several minutes later, it disappears. Gradually, the time above the horizon increases until the full sun can again be seen.
I hope that everyone has a good Halloween even if, like me, you live in a part of the world that does not particularly partake in the occasion. Obviously I have not managed to get up the rest of my reviews for the Classic Challenge but I do still intend to post them sometime.