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A spy thinks 30 DAYS OF NIGHT is 30 days of torture...

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. A mild mannered reporter (his choosing of a handle) decided to drop us a line after seeing David Slade's 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. It's not a positive review. Reading through it, I don't get the impression that our spy has any kind of ax to grind and that he/she/it really wanted to enjoy the flick. I hope I radically disagree with our spy because 30 DAY OF NIGHT is my most anticipated Halloween release, but the mention of shutter-speed gimmickery has me a tad worried. Anyway, enjoy the review, but be warned of spoilers!

Hi Harry! Call me mild mannered reporter (as usual), if you decide to use this... Preface: Sorry if some of my comments sound weird - English is not my first language. Had the chance to go to a screening of "30 days of night" a few days ago. I was pretty pumped, since I liked both the graphic novel and the trailer. This looked like a seriously scary vampire flick with more brains than your average schlock horror movie. Well, turns out I was wrong... The story in short: Barrow, Alaska is so way up north that they have an annual "night cycle" of 30 days without sunlight. During the latest stretch of darkness, a horde of vampires cuts all connections to the outside world, and violently slays the population. Only a few survivors (led by Eben, the community's sheriff) manage to hide away for a while, hoping to last until the sun comes up again... Where to start? Visually, 30DON is all over the place - some of the location photography is surprisingly realistic, while a lot of other shots look fake as hell. The texture and the depth of the picture seem to change from scene to scene, CGI snow alternating with crystal clear images. Most houses are obviously spray painted white to simulate winter. This continues in the editing style - shutter speed gimmickry and nitrate trickery is as evident as regular TV movie setups, making 30DON very uneven in look and feel. I understand that it is VERY hard to film a movie that's basically 100 per cent night shoots and fake snow, but other movies ("The Thing") did it a lot better with less advanced technology. You never get the feeling just how cold and lonely a place Barrow is (apart from the opening scenes that were obviously shot on location - the rest seems awfully studio bound). But all of this would be irrelevant if the movie worked dramatically. It doesn't. In fact, the flaws in the script are so obvious that I can't believe the writer of the graphic novel had a hand in it. This movie has so many dumb "slap your forehead in disbelief" scenes that I can hardly believe Sam Raimi had ANYTHING to do with it. The audience audibly groaned several times. The pacing is totally off, due to a rather clumsy oversight on the part of the scriptwriters: our heroes are only in marginal danger, and under little pressure. Most of the time (pretty much 28 of the 30 days), they hide away, with the vampires being someplace else. It is mentioned on the very first day that the creatures ransack every house, looking for survivors - but it is never mentioned again, and seems to exclude the very house our heroes are hiding in! And the ransacking also doesn't apply to the general store, even though the vampires have gone to great lengths to minimize the chances of survival for the protagonists (yeah, leave the store with the food and tools intact and unwatched - good idea). Our survivors never really stand a chance, thus depriving the film of any "us vs. them" moments. Vampires come - humans run. Or die. That simple. But not very satisfying. It doesn't help that we never get any backstory on the vampires or their goals. When they finally burn down the town to cover their tracks (yeah, dozens of decapitated bodies won't raise ANY suspicion), we get the feeling that they just wanted to have a good time during a longer than usual night out. But I saved the biggest blunder for last: 30DON never manages to convey the a sense of time passing. The survivors are trapped for 30 days, yet nothing happens that couldn't have happened over the course of a single regular night. If you take out the "Day 13", "Day 27" etc. title cards, you could easily claim that this is your average "Assault on Precinct 13" variation. What does it MEAN to be trapped for 30 days, with vampires roaming around? How does it AFFECT people? Pain, loneliness, suffering, hunger - by God, even the menstrual cycle of the women? 30DON never addresses any of that. The survivors hide in one house, then stock up on food (never seen or heard from ever again), and then visit an industrial building for the final confrontation. It's that simple. And that overused. Don't get me wrong - there is tons of gore, some pretty extreme decapitations, and in the action scenes, it rivals "Planet Terror" for sheer splatter mayhem. There is also a nice "helicopter view" massacre sequence not unlike the car scenes at the beginning of the "Dawn of the Dead" remake. But this is rather distracting in a movie that would've worked better as a suspense piece. The actors are fine, even though they never get much to work with - the relationship between Josh Hartnett and Melissa George practically defines the term "filler", and a role reversal would've made a lot more sense. Eben's actions in the finale would've carried more impact if HE had been the one who originally wanted to leave Barrow. I realize that a LOT of the structural problems are already evident in the source material - but isn't the most basic task of adapting a graphic novel to make it WORK on the big screen? With a better script, this could've been a major horror release - it had the budget, it had the expertise, it had the actors, and it had a terrific hook. But they fucked it up. Badly. Worth renting on DVD - if at all. Sorry, folks.

Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 3, 2007, 5:39 p.m. CST

    First

    by listen2cky

    finally

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 5:40 p.m. CST

    Say it aint so...

    by TheRealSeveren

    had a bad feeling about this one.

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 5:42 p.m. CST

    If it was called '300 Days of Night'...

    by Pennsy

    The lead character could say "THIS...IS...BAR-ROW!"

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 5:44 p.m. CST

    I had a feeling about this...

    by nopix

    All I could think about after reading the premise, and of course the title, was being trapped in a cold, dark, isolated town for 30 fucking days. I thought it sounded epic, and yet, slowly realized no studio would like that because they just want it to keep on rolling as fast is it can. It's a shame if this is indeed the film's detriment.

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 5:49 p.m. CST

    shitty comic, shitty movie!

    by ironic_name

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 5:49 p.m. CST

    What movie did this guy see???

    by Kasch

    Is this guy French? I've never disagreed with a review so much in my life. Every point he makes against it worked brilliantly in the film. The structure and tension were all done masterfully. "Cheap" sets? CGI snow? WTF? Even the shutter speed was far less subdued than in Hard Candy. The fact that the survivors never stood a chance was what MADE the vampires scary... They couldn't be fought off or reasoned with. It's the perfect "you're fucked" scenario. So far its the only good movie Raimi has ever produced...and I'd say its better than the graphic novel (which I adore).

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 5:49 p.m. CST

    also saw it...

    by triumverate

    skip it, it blows.

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 5:50 p.m. CST

    oh dear...

    by dalbatron

    3'0 days of night' seems to have turned into '100 minutes of shite' oops

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 5:58 p.m. CST

    ash's bad hand?

    by ironic_name

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 6:02 p.m. CST

    Damn...

    by KillDozer

    I was looking forward to this one. Maybe I'll just stay home and watch The Thing again.

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 6:12 p.m. CST

    The comic suffered a lot of these problems

    by Jack Burton

    The passage of time is kind of irrelevant in the book too. The vamps are pretty much just there to go nuts for 30 days, there wasn't much ulterior motive beyond that. Basically the story was a violent and artistically striking update of the 80's Twilight Zone story about a town in Alaska that is overtaken by vampires during their winter. I don't remember what the episode was called, if anyone else does please let me know. I remember liking it quite a bit. But I thought this looked like a faithful adaptation of the comic, hopefully it is more intense than the reviewer said.

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 6:12 p.m. CST

    Not American? I bet if this were made by Alan Moore...

    by Mike_D

    he would have LOVED it.

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 6:22 p.m. CST

    killdozer?

    by ironic_name

    as in stuart immonen? <P> cool!

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 6:23 p.m. CST

    Jack Burton

    by DKT

    100% agree with you. The comic had a cool look to it and a great set-up, but as a story it seemed kind of shallow and the climax felt pretty forced.

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 6:23 p.m. CST

    Damn

    by TattooedBillionaire

    Sounds like my expectations were a little too high for this one. I'm still hoping for the best, but a lot of what I wanted out of this film is not there, according to this review.

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 6:52 p.m. CST

    So it's

    by papabendi

    'Thirty Days of Shite'. You can quote me on the poster.

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 7:25 p.m. CST

    :*(*

    by T 1000 xp professional

    Damnit I want a good vampire movie...NOWW!!! i was really waiting for this one...i still have hope...he probably had a bad translator

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 8:25 p.m. CST

    (28 Out of) 30 Days of Hide and Seek

    by CloudCleaver

    So the vamps can't find the sheriff and company for "most of the time"? That's not quite the story I was expecting to see. Kind of anti-climactic. (Yeah, I haven't read the graphic novel.)

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 10:14 p.m. CST

    am I the only person that saw the twilight zone

    by van_line

    remake from the late 80s, one of the stories was about vampires in I think a russian town and the reason they lived their is because of no sunlight. i have never understood why noone has ever commented about the similarities in the 2 stories.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 12:14 a.m. CST

    Van Line

    by Fartgod The IRSTard

    because it is not a Twilight Zone, bozo. The story is ripped off massively from a Tales from the Crypt. Jesus what a fuckstick.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 12:36 a.m. CST

    the comic was mediocre

    by Max Meanie

    Did anybody actually read the comic? There's nothing "groundbreaking" about it. It looks like a rehash of a lot of '80's horror books with Sienkiewicz-type art and sub-par writing. It's an interesting premise but it's not executed very well. And the ending is a fan-boy's wet dream. =SPOILER= We're expected to believe that the hero can become a vampire & take everyone out when it's established earlier in the story that the older you are the more powerful a vampire you are. It's poor writing. No interest in seeing this film at all unless it improves upon the comic. And from the early review it sounds like it doesn't.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 1:26 a.m. CST

    Sam Raimi had a hand in this

    by GenreBoy

    .....But did the Vampires Dance?

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 1:39 a.m. CST

    doesn't the comic story line...

    by jub3i

    take some weird fucking turns like taking a vampire into space?

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 1:39 a.m. CST

    i meant the sequels to the comic

    by jub3i

    i've read some synopses.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 1:46 a.m. CST

    What's up w/Josh Hartnet's always pained look?

    by Poloboy

    This frickin' actor is a piece of shit! Yea, he was okay in Halloween H20, and maybe even Hollywood Homicide opposite Harrison Ford, but most of the time he just has no emotion on his face and just squints. He mumbles and always acts lackadaisical. He looks like he is constipated and trying to shit his pants. How the fuck does this dude get role after role after role? He better enjoy the ride because we will soon be seeing him on some shitty CW sitcom that will be cancelled after 6 airings.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 1:51 a.m. CST

    It looked like shit from the beginning

    by Andy Warhol Jr

    I have no idea why could anyone think it might be good.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 1:58 a.m. CST

    Kasch

    by Andy Warhol Jr

    FUCK YOU PLANT! P.S. Everything that Raimi touches becomes shit. And this, my friends, is Newton's fourth law.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 2:44 a.m. CST

    Warhol

    by Kasch

    Suck my taint, you cliched talkbacker douche. I remember I got called a plant when I praised 300 a year ago. It's funny to see people overreacting to this one review with mindless crap like "I knew it was shite" without even taking into the fact that Niles loved the film and David Slade has proven himself a great director. I'd love to hear Moriarity weigh in on this since he was at the same screening I was.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 3:13 a.m. CST

    Good premise, but trailer looks lousy

    by The_Fredo

    So this is no surprise. <BR> <BR> I'll wait for "The Mist" instead.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 3:33 a.m. CST

    Harsh!

    by Heleno

    It's got a few problems with the passage of time issue, yes, but it looks fantastic and the vampires are proper scary.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 3:39 a.m. CST

    Mild Mannered Reporter here again...

    by SoupSpitter

    Wow, I thought I'd get slaughtered for my thoughts on this one. Remember, this is just MY opinion - there was at least one guy at the screening who loved the movie. And since no one else answers the poor guy who keeps asking - you are referring to the excellent Twilight Zone episode "Red Snow" with George Dzundza. It's not set in Alaska, but in Siberia (from what I remember). As an aside: remember how cold "The Thing" FELT? The ice in Russel's beard, the semi-darkness? "30 days of night" just can't seem to get that right. And since someone brought up the ending - it comes pretty much out of left field, feels forced, and overly melodramatic. It also fails to answer numerous questions. Over and out.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 7:13 a.m. CST

    It looks just as "studio bound" as the crappy trailer?

    by Nice Marmot

    Shocking.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 8:02 a.m. CST

    Raimi has 1 good movie

    by jivatmax

    Evil Dead.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 8:06 a.m. CST

    Raimi's trademark

    by cowboyone

    Dumb "slap your forehead in disbelief" scenes. Spiderman 3, the Musical.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 8:07 a.m. CST

    And it's "axe" not "ax"

    by cowboyone

    Turn on spell check for chrissakes.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 8:07 a.m. CST

    fu@# u

    by ryan74

    The movie is awesome! don't trust him!

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 8:39 a.m. CST

    Meh, Mr Pendulum. Meh.

    by Just another useless chump with a microphone

    The trailer looked kinda cool, so I bought the comic a while back. I was thoroughly unimpressed. Great idea and concept, generally horrible artwork (the vamps were kind of cool, but the rest was awful), lackluster story, and it felt like Ben Templesmith had no idea how to end it so he just pulled something out of his ass. I've read a number of Templesmith works now, and only one did anything for me. 30DON and Fell were both utter shite, but Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse was a work of sheer genius (the writing was...the art was still crap). <p> As far as the movie goes...I'll see it. It looks mildly interesting, maybe a fun way to kill two hours. My girlfriend is really excited about it, and is borrowing the comic from me this week. Hell, it can't be worse than Resident Evil: Extinction (since when can you kill zombies by slitting their throat?)....

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 9:31 a.m. CST

    Comic sucked - why should the movie be any different?

    by Mosquito March

    After all, we are talking about Steve Niles and his special brand of shit-hackery.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 12:21 p.m. CST

    So now its Sam Raimi's turn to get

    by skimn

    shit on? The guy gives us Bruce Campbell, Evil Dead's 1 and 2, Darkman, A Simple Plan, Spiderman's 1 and 2 (who could've done a better job bringing those stories to screen?). Sure, Ghost House has produced some stink...Boogeyman? Grudge 2? ...and so has Dark Castle, but just the same, lay off Raimi.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 4:25 p.m. CST

    Is English really your second language?

    by GrandMuffTarkin

    Or were you just saying that so that you didn't get ripped on any grammar mistakes? Because, quite frankly, your English is fine.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 6:14 p.m. CST

    Raimi has 1 good movie

    by barnaby jones

    A Simple Plan.

  • Oct. 7, 2007, 9:56 a.m. CST

    Niles is a Hack

    by DannyOcean01

    So why are we surprised if the film is bad. The real draw of the original source was Templesmith's fucked up art. Niles sold the pitch, not the actual finished work and if it wasn't for the art he'd have been in the shit as everything the reviewer states is true of the book. It's a shallow, big concept piece of fluff, and the fact they've whored the franchise over and over and over and over and over shows how little it all means.

  • Oct. 24, 2007, 1:42 p.m. CST

    Bruce Campbell/Mike Richardson interview

    by TheMostHorrible

    This Saturday 10/27 at 7 pm pacific, a great interview with Bruce Campbell and Mike Richardson of Dark Horse comics airs on the radio variety show Live Wire, on Oregon Public Broadcasting. If you're local you know where to find it, but the rest of you can listen online at: http://tinyurl.com/ynwbmg (I feel like a tool using tiny url when the real address is www.opb.org much tinier than the tiny, but it seems like the thing to do.) Anyways, there's a link to listen live and it's totally worth a listen. Bruce and Mike talk a lot about "My Name is Bruce", Sam Raimi as an abusive stick wielding director, 30 Days of Night, Hellboy and more. Bruce even steps into some sketch comedy with Faces for Radio Theater and goes OFF on people who like to call him Ash. The musical guest is the band Loch Lomond.