30 Days of Night is a 2007 horror film directed by David Slade. Based on the graphic novel series of the same name, it starts off, and finishes with the very simple premise of “Vampires attack a small town in Alaska”. The film follows a group of people who live through the initial attacks, and then must fight to survive for the next 30 days. The sun won’t come up during this time, so the vampires pretty much have free-reign over the entire town.
Seeing as how the entire film takes place in Alaska in the middle of winter, when no sun will rise for 30 straight days, one could see how this would be the perfect place for vampires to attack. Surprisingly, these vampires really aren’t all that good at hunting. After the initial attacks, where we learn of their brutality, the vampires mostly just walk around the town, as the group of survivors move from place to place, slowly losing members. It was fairly refreshing to see vampires act like bloodthirsty creatures for once, and while we do get a fairly large dose of these moments, they rarely actually come off as all that scary.
That’s the main problem that 30 Days of Night has; it isn’t really all that scary. The vampires themselves are fairly terrifying, and you certainly wouldn’t want to ever meet one of them, but given the fact that they are more of a looming presence, rather than a direct threat, means they don’t feel like a great threat, even though they are. There are moments that are quite tense, but there aren’t any that will make you genuinely terrified for any of the characters. That’s something that I would have thought almost impossible to do, considering that the film does a good job of building up its characters.
As with many other movies, the film begins without there being much of an issue. Everyone is either getting ready for the long days ahead of them, or getting ready to leave before the airport closes for 30 days. We learn about the different relationships between characters, although it doesn’t really resonate until later in the film. This is actually a good thing, as it means that while characters are whispering to each other in an attic together, you remember why they are saying the things they are, and become more interested in the dialogue. These moments likely would have been kind of boring otherwise, but it ends up working quite well.
While the characters are interesting, some of the acting isn’t. It’s not that it’s all, or even mostly bad, but one of the leads doesn’t really hold up his end of the deal. Josh Hartnett would be the actor I’m talking about in this case, and he shows that he can have a lack of emotions, even when his friends and family are being taken away from him. When he does try to show emotion, it seems forced, almost like they wanted him to try to hold it in, and instead of doing that, he decided to not actually be sad at all and just fake his tears. He’s the biggest detractor when it comes to the acting, but since he’s on-screen the most out of all the other characters, it matters a fair bit.
The vampires themselves are actually fairly interesting. They speak in a foreign, (and entirely made up), language, they have a leader, and they always seem hungry for blood. It’s weird that at times, they seem intelligent, such as when they use one human as bait in an attempt to draw others out, but at other times them seem incredibly dense, falling for a similar trap. They seem genuinely terrifying when they show up, but the play more of a backseat role in the film. They intermittently appear, and when they do, they cause a disturbance, but then they are gone for a lengthy period of time. There are also times when they appear seemingly just because we had gone a good portion of time without seeing them, and they appear without any explanation.
Overall, 30 Days of Night is an entertaining film, but not necessarily one that is all that scary. The vampires are brutal creatures to be sure, but their role in the film is more to sit back and intimidate than actually go down from their rooftop perches and cause trouble. The survivors from the initial attack are well-developed, and apart from the poor acting of Josh Hartnett, they are fairly well acted. The film has tense moments, but seeing as how the vampires only appear when things start to get boring, and without any explanation as to how they got there, their presence actually starts to become irritating, rather than exciting. There are entertaining parts, and the entire film manages to be fairly exciting for the most part, but there just isn’t too much there in terms of horror.