Many motion-pictures have come and gone in the vampire genre. Most are worn out with bloody fangs, silver stakes, death by sunlight, bats, garlic, human-to-vampire transformations, and ubiquitous Dracula references or appearances. The vast majority of these features include red liquid by the bucket and too many bullets to count.
30 Days of Night comes close to redefining this stale genre. The film presents the stereotypical set of vampires with a mature style suggestive of its graphic novel source. Unfortunately for viewers, the final ten minutes disappointingly dip back into convention.
Every year, Barrow, Alaska — a small town on the state's northernmost edge — spends a full month in complete darkness. Before the final sunset, most of the townspeople migrate south to live with sun. Nevertheless, a handful of citizens remain behind to tough out the 30 days of continuous night.
Among this year's handful is the town sheriff, Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) and his estranged wife, Stella (Melissa George). When cell phones are found destroyed, dogs killed, and friends mutilated, it soon becomes apparent that a band of bloodthirsty vampires are out to kill each of the town's inhabitants. Eben must lead the charge to save Barrow from total extinction.
The story's setting is inherently reminiscent of John Carpenter's The Thing. The air is cold, the action is intense, and the characters are claustrophobic within their own community — frightened and entrapped by snow. Director David Slade invites a disquieting mood and ironically allows suspense to boil within a town implanted on the frozen tundra.
One thing is for sure, and it is that 30 Days of Night features some frightening depictions of vampires. Some might say that the bloodsuckers are a cross between the archetypal images of Dracula and Alec Baldwin's metamorphosis in Beetlejuice. With their raptor-esque squeals, dilated pupils, and superhuman powers, these creatures of the night surely make for menacing villains.