Tuesday, October 30, 2007

30 Days of Night - Review

Since Halloween is tomorrow, I thought I'd do a review of the 30 Days of Night movie and a comparison between the movie and the comic by the same name.

Craig and I saw the movie on opening weekend - I like a good horror movie every once in a while, and since it was October and all, I wanted to go check out the 30 Days of Night movie. I wanted a good scare!

I thought it started out well, some small crimes, a mysterious ghost ship, then we see people disappear and shadows that we know are vampires lurk. They set up the town for their 30 Days of feasting by destroying communications, power, and transportation. Great start! But it was short - soon we see the vampires and they begin their feast. Then the movie looses its scariness because we know the vampires, we can see there isn't much chance of stopping them, and by day 7 it seems that they have killed off all but a dozen or so residents of the little town of Barrow. Shouldn't the vampires have paced themselves better? What's the point of going to a town where you can feast for 30 days without the fear of the sun rising if you're going to stuff yourselves in the first 7 days and then have nothing to do but scrounge for the few hidden survivors for the next two plus weeks? A lot of the film became predictable - they go on the move to find supplies or a better hiding place - someone from the group will die. Old man is senile - he will wander off and be eaten in no time. Other than getting close enough to these super strong, super fast creatures to chop their heads off, nothing stopped them, which gave very little chance to anyone. So, the solution the sheriff comes up with at the end while tragic, made sense.

An interesting thing about the movie is that, aside from the whole sun thing, the typical vampire mythos was absent. There was a church visible in one scene, but no crosses or holy water was ever used to stop the vampires. In fact, no one even tried. No garlic was used or tried either. No wooden stakes through the heart could stop them. Only removal of the head from the body.

Overall I liked the effects and thought the vampires were pretty cool looking. But, I thought the suspense didn't last long enough to make the movie as scary as I wanted it to be. It was only OK - I'd give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

The comic book 30 Days of Night, where the movie creators got their inspiration, was only a 3-issue mini series. So, it makes sense that the movie's story was kind of weak and the pacing was off. That is a pretty short story. But back in 2002 it put both the writer, Steve Niles, and the artist, Ben Templesmith, on the comic book fan radar, so to speak.

Much of the movie is completely made up. One would expect that, considering how short the original comic story was. There are far more characters and story in the movie than we ever get in the comic book. In the comic Eben and Stella are not splitting up, they do not have a grandmother or brother in the story at all, sheriff Eben does not have another partner other than Stella, there are no scenes of sled dogs being killed or vampires using humans as bait to get people out, no handful of people hiding in an attic. Even bits of the movie that are taken from the comic, like the little girl vampire in the grocery store, elaborate quite a bit on what little they were given in the comic story. But there are panels of the comic that are put directly into the movie.

There is also the story of the woman in New Orleans who sends her son out to take pictures of the vampires - that is in the comic story but not at all in the movie.

In the movie the vampires seem very old fashioned and foreign, where in the comic they seem much more modern. The head vampire in the movie makes almost no sense when he speaks - he seems to speak in philosophy and riddle and except for a few lines it would have made more sense to not translate his vampire language at all. But in the comic there are actually two guys who seem in charge, at least until one destroys the other. And they both say things that are part of the regular vernacular and make sense.

The end of the movie is fairly accurate to the comic book's ending, so I was glad to see that Hollywood didn't change it too much there.

If you are looking for a movie to watch for Halloween, this one is OK. Since the Rob Zombie remake of Halloween left theaters about a month ago already, and since I am Legion won't be out until early December, this movie can fit the bill for a scary movie to see for Halloween. It won't be great, but it is not horrible either. I guess you need to see the earlier Saw movies to get Saw 4, and that always seemed a bit too weird and gross to me anyway. So if you are not seeing Saw and want to spend Halloween checking out a scary movie, 30 Days of Night will have to do.

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