30 DAYS OF NIGHT
In Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost town in the United States, the sun sets for 30 consecutive days during winter. This time, as the town shuts down, most of the hundreds of people who stay for the darkness are mysteriously ravaged within minutes. Unseen predators cut off all means of communication and of escape. The small band of people who survive the initial onslaught are led by the young (recently estranged) sheriff couple, Eben (Josh Hartnett) and Stella (Melissa George), in their fight to stay alive until the return of daylight...
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
David Slade made gritty and gripping work of Hard Candy, which, while not strictly a horror film, told a horrid story. With 30 Days Of Night he has stretched out to a genre he seems well equipped to direct. With Steve Niles on board to help adapt the comic to the screen, the essential elements are authentically transferred to the new medium, and Slade adds cinematic style to the visualisation.
The film begins with a mood intended to soften us up for strangeness to follow, as night approaches Barrow at the top of Alaska. Whether Barrow becomes a hot new tourist destination is doubtful. Bit by bit, the looming danger closes in, in the form of flesh eaters who abhor the light. But unlike zombies from most undead films in the horror sub genre, these creatures are uniquely misshapen humans, as if genetically mutated, with dead black eyes. They also speak a rather ugly language of their own, and far from moving like sleepwalkers, they are very fast. And very strong. And very bad.
Danny Huston plays the leader of the vampires in a spectacularly harrowing characterisation of a creature whose callousness is a natural extension of his violent arrogance towards normal humans. Josh Hartnett and Melissa George as the recently estranged couple forced to form a team to survive are not so lucky as to have extreme characters to play but they do the job well, as do the supports on both sides of the genetic divide. Production design is excellent, and Brian Reitzel's score finds new ways to ratchet up the tension - often with loud drum beats.
This isn't my favourite genre, but it's evident that the film delivers all the requisite elements for fans itching to sit through decapitations, body ripping and blood-soaked, tooth gnashing devourings directed in as fresh a way as is possible. The climax of the story avoids an entirely upbeat note with a tragic twist that ennobles our hero.
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30 DAYS OF NIGHT (R)
CAST: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Ben Foster, Danny Huston, Amber Sainsbury, Manu Bennett, Mark Boone Junior, Joel Tobeck
PRODUCER: Sam Raimi, Robert G. Tapert
DIRECTOR: David Slade
SCRIPT: Steve Niles, Stuart Beattie, Brian Nelson (comic by Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jo Willems
EDITOR: Art Jones
MUSIC: Brian Reitzel
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Paul D. Austerberry
RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 8, 2007