30 Days of Night: Dark Days is a sequel to the film 30 Days of Night. Returning is but one character, Stella (now played by Kiele Sanchez). Also returning are vampires, who have now decided to inhabit Los Angeles. Also coming from the first film was the lack of any frightening scenes. Dark Days, just like its predecessor, isn’t scary.
There are still a few jump scenes. I’d like to remind you that these are not “scary”. To be scary, a film needs to actually scare you, not just startle you for a moment. A film like this needs to be atmospheric in order for it to frighten. The first 30 Days of Night came close to this, as it did have a good setting. This time around, there isn’t the cold, sunless northern town to use as a backdrop, we’re in LA.
Stella Oleson has been touring parts of America in hopes to draw attention to the events that happened in the first film. Unfortunately for her, nobody believes that vampires could really exist. And can you blame them? If someone decided to turn up in your town and proclaim to the world that vampires destroyed an entire town, you might be a slight bit skeptical as well. Eventually her failing tour takes her to the aforementioned Los Angeles, where she meets some people who do believe that vampires exist.
These people also hunt vampires. They’ve done so in the past, so they proclaim, and are about to go after the queen bee, Lilith (Mia Kirshner). Stella decides to tag along, and together the group goes to do just that: Kill Lilith. Now, how can this premise occupy the timeframe of an entire movie? It can’t, so the movie cheats and has them toy around, fail to find her and take its sweet time getting to the point that we actually care about — the showdown with Lilith.
You know it’s going to happen, but there are a few details regarding the circumstances surrounding the encounter. How many members of the group will still be alive? What will the film’s death count be? How can the vampires speak English? Okay, the last question was one that doesn’t involve the inevitable meeting, but it’s still one that needs to be addressed, and is also one that never does get addressed.
That’s okay; things can change from the original to the sequel. I mean, our lead actress changed, so there shouldn’t be much problem with the vampires being able to speak English. The setting is also changed, but that’s okay. Who doesn’t want to see a vampire invasion of LA? But wait a moment, there’s also a vampire that hasn’t gone feral, and instead chooses to help our team of vampire hunters. How nice of him.
I can deal with the film not being scary though. I still got some enjoyment out of the first film despite it not scaring me. However, there are some things that I cannot forgive. Like how moronic the decisions that the vampire hunters make are. For a group that claims to know what it’s doing, I didn’t get that feeling from them at all. Their first attempt to slay Lilith almost ended with them all emptying their clips into hordes of vampires, (who, in this scene, acted far more like quick zombies than the suave, yet savage, vampires of the first film). They didn’t bring much lighting, even though the technology exists to have bright, portable, fluorescent lights. They didn’t even bring watches! Even the people in the first film, who were taken by surprise by the attack, were better prepared to fight the vampires.
It’s also made abundantly clear over the course of the film that it was made to cheaply cash-in on the 30 Days of Night franchise. This film was released direct-to-video, and it shows. The special effects would have been laughable 10 years prior, or maybe even further back, with the only thing to praise in the “Design” category going to the makeup work, which, like the first film, is still very good.
The ending to Dark Days makes me question whether or not the film will be considered canon, and if there will be further installments to the franchise. I’d be willing to bet the answer is an emphatic “yes”, even if the two films contradict each other somewhat. I don’t want to spoil what makes Dark Days partially ruin events in the first film, because even hinting to it will likely give it away, but if you’re someone who really enjoyed the first film, you probably should give Dark Days a pass.
Although you should do that anyway, because there’s little redeeming about this film. Sanchez does just about as good of a job as Melissa George did in the first film, and if you don’t pay that close attention, you may not even notice the change. The makeup was still good, and the vampires, for the most part, still felt like a menacing threat. But that’s about the best part of the film.
30 Days of Night: Dark Days is not worth your time. It isn’t worth watching if you liked its predecessor, nor is it worth your time if you’re looking for something incredibly different. It’s bland, features terrible special effects, and simply isn’t scary. The first film had the potential to be a frightening experience; this one ruins the canon and is a cheap cash-in with the main purpose of keeping interest in a series that should have only lasted one film.