Not your average vampires

Vampires made their return to the big screen last Friday with the release of the horror movie, “30 Days of Night.”

The movie is based on the comic book miniseries written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Ben Templesmith. Directed by David Slade and produced by Sam Raimi among
others, the film takes place in a small Alaskan town over the course of a month.

The problem arises when everyone in town is leaving, trying to beat the last sunset, or preparing to endure a month of darkness (which happens every year). This is the perfect time for a vampire ambush, and that is exactly what happens.

These are not your grandparent’s typical caped “I want to suck your blood”-style vampires. This pack of Nosferatu is stronger, faster, and shows absolutely no mercy. They strike with zero warning, leaving you only to hide and hope.

Most of the responsibility of protecting the town from invasion is put on the shoulders of Sheriff Eben Oleson, played by Josh Hartnett. He does have some help from his wife, Stella, played by Melissa George. She has recently left him, causing neither to know how to act around each other, which adds an interesting dynamic to the vampire dilemma they face throughout the film.

Although they both deliver solid performances, there are a couple others that stand out a bit more despite their smaller roles. The first is Ben Foster, who plays a creepy, decrepit looking stranger to the town. After being arrested for causing a scene at a local diner, he warns the town of its impending fate, saying, “That cold ain’t the weather. That’s death approaching.” No one takes him seriously until the heads begin to roll, or in this case, the necks begin to spew blood.

Another stand-out role is that of Marlow, the head vampire, played by Danny Huston. His ruthlessness and overall presence is the main source of fright in the movie.

Despite not having many lines, he portrays a frightening villain very well.

Even with the good acting and entertaining villains, the movie failed to come across as anything more than “pretty good.” The first half of the movie was excellent, setting a fast pace that the second half had a hard time following. There seemed to be a lack of story to fill in the holes, leaving too much downtime.

The ending appeared to be a missed opportunity at salvaging the inconsistent film. The build up to the final scenes is dragged out, leaving viewers hoping for a spectacular ending, one they will not expect. What they do find is a cliché conclusion that ends the movie on a low note.

The way in which the film was shot seems to reflect the picture’s overall quality. At times, it was very good, capturing the mood perfectly, while still keeping the comic book feel. At other times the look seemed to be mundane and unoriginal.

“30 Days of Night”‘s inconsistency is its major downfall. The strong points alone though are reason enough to give this movie a try. After all, it is a vampire movie, and if you go to a vampire movie expecting a cinematic classic, perhaps you deserve an encounter with Marlow.

2 1/2 out of 4 stars