Throwback Thursday: It's Cold and Dark and We're Experiencing 30 Days of Night
Throwback Thursday examines films from the past—“classic” films that might not be in the current cultural zeitgeist but can still be important in some aspect. If you’re a vampire that can’t go out in the daylight and weather doesn’t bother you, where would you go? Why not Alaska in the winter, when there can be no daylight for up to a month? That’s the premise behind the 2007 film 30 Days of Night. Welcome to Barrow, Alaska, where the residents are used to living in darkness for an extended periods of time. The film follows sheriff Eben Oleson and his ex-wife, Stella, as they try to protect their town from vampires who have come up with an almost foolproof plan to hunt their prey. Based on the comic by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith (which is a must-read), the film fleshes out the relationships of Eben and Stella a little more than the source and ends up focusing on their story more so than the vampires. The comics do delve a little deeper on vampire culture and the different factions involved. However, as a straight-up vampire horror film set in the dead of winter in a dark and lonely town, the film accomplishes what it sets out to do: let vampires run amok in Alaska. Minnesota's own Josh Hartnett brings a poker face to the proceedings as the sheriff trying to save as many townspeople as possible. I admit, I’ve always been a little bored by Hartnett’s performances, but this is one of the few exceptions—he actually makes me care about what happens to his character. Melissa George as Stella anchors the film much more, though, with a solid, stellar performance. If you’re up for a “cold” George double feature I would recommend pairing this with her riveting 2011 film A Lonely Place to Die, in which she is stuck on a mountain being hunted by killers. 30 Days of Night is directed by David Slade, who only has a couple of other features to his name: the hard-to-swallow Hard Candy (which is a well-made film of difficult subject matter) and one of the Twilight films. The vampires of 30 Days of Night are drastically different from those, though. Weta Workshop did the vampire designs, and they hew greatly to the original comic designs by Templesmith. The film is worth it for the vampire character designs alone: very primal looking, black eyes, sharp and pointy teeth, pale, and clawed. You definitely don’t want to run up against these creatures in the cold and snow (or anywhere for that matter). I’m a sucker for vampire films, from Nosferatu to Bram Stoker’s Dracula all the way up to The Only Lovers Left Alive and Byzantium. This is an enjoyable diversion that tries to add a little more to the hunting habits of these creatures; cryptozoologists should be proud. Admittedly, it’s not the strongest film out there—the script does hit all the appropriate beats and you can see the ending coming from a mile away. But if you want vampires who try to think outside the box in finding a new hunting ground, you can do a lot worse. This film can be found on both Blu-ray and DVD. It is currently available via Netflix, but streaming offerings change frequently, so keep an eye out. Feel free to discuss further in the comments below; just keep it respectful.
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