30 Days of Night Review
The Snow is such a Lovely Shade of Red.
Within the horror genre lives several different sub-genres. Some of these types of horror are well known and discussed and some are not. There is your traditional horror, which is heavy on the suspense and the subtext. Next you got your postmodern and supernatural horror. Then there is the type of horror I lovingly refer to as brutal horror. A sub-genre I named and created in my head. These films are not focused on creating suspense in the traditional sense. Instead, they scare you by putting their characters through unimaginable pain and torment and making you witness the whole ordeal. The audience gets to watch as these functioning members of society are hunted and terrorized by monsters (supernatural or human) to the point where they are no longer members of a modern society, but creatures using all their instinct and strength to survive. For the most part I would consider 30 Days of Night a brutal horror film, and I mean that as a very sincere compliment.
30 Days of Night begins with standard back-story about the two leads getting a separation and in the process introduces you to some of the townspeople. So you will have a face to go with all the blood and screams. After the initial set up, the audience is exposed to waves of red snow, body dismemberments, and startling moments. Exactly what you would expect from the mixture of a graphic novel and the horror genre.
This is the second feature for former music video director David Slade. Slade’s first film was Hard Candy, a different but equally bleak film. Stylistically, 30 Days of Night does have a few shots similar to what we have seen in other graphic novel films, such as 300. However, the rest of the shots, sets, and music let you know Slade has gone all in for this film. Whether you laugh at the film or love it, you know the director’s actions were true to his vision.
The vampires are cool looking, but over shown to the point where at the end of the film there are not nearly as terrifying. Even with this over saturation, the head vampire, Marlow, never stops being entertaining to watch. This is due the fact that Marlow is played by Danny Huston, the actor behind great performances in the little seen films Birth and The Proposition. As an actor, Mr. Huston’s actions never seem forced or false; he is capable of showing you any emotion with natural ease. Mr. Huston’s performance in 30 Days of Night is beyond scene stealing. The audience gladly eats up every second Marlow is on the screen, intoxicated by his brutality and beliefs. The rest of the cast is fine but nothing great.
There are many wonderfully macabre moments in the film. There is a scene that works like a morbid take on the famous endings to The Yearling and Old Yeller. A scene that lets you know that the lead Eben (Josh Hartnett) is no longer the man he was at the start of the film. The repeating shots of the red snow let you know that the town may appear deserted and calm but evil lies in the shadows.
30 Days of Night is not without flaws. There are a few unintentionally laughable moments and the last 30 seconds are an incredibly weak way to end a film that, up to that point, had been solid. Even with the standard horror flaws, the film was largely entertaining. 30 Days of Night is exactly what it should be, given the source material. A bloody, brutal, and well shot good time.