DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

30 Days of Night



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</script></div>{/googleAds}When one hears the tagline ‘adapted from the graphic novel' the usual spandex wearing colourful superhero can be put to one side. You see, normally if it's a ‘graphic novel' this term is supposed to evoke that you will get something a bit more sophisticated than the standard comic book adaptation of course, if you read comics at all, you know a graphic novel is nothing more than a big fat comic book, and that this elitist term is the biggest pile of dung conceit out there. Comics are comics, whether thick or thin, and like any medium, they have good ones and not so good ones...

A very popular one a few years back was the independent horror comic 30 Days of Night; a vampire mini-series written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Aussie artist Ben Templesmith. Originally an unsuccessful film pitch, this little tale follows a young couple, on the brink of separating, finding themselves and their severely isolated Alaskan town besieged by vampires, who are taking advantage of the fact that the town experiences 30 days of night once a year.

After the success of the comic, Hollywood decided it wasn't such a bad idea after all, and engaged Indie darling and relative newcomer (to features) David Slade - a man who wowed critics and the industry a couple of years back with the awesome Hard Candy to bring it to the big screen. It was a good choice.

This is a horror film afforded every possible chance to succeed, in fact to become a modern classic: from the very gifted director to the casting, production values, and crew, you could not find a more slickly and adeptly assembled horror flick out there... but there are some slip ups, and they take this film down a considerable peg. This is a good horror film, but it ain't a great one.

To what works. This film is visually breathtaking, sombre, atmospheric and of almost unparalleled quality in the horror genre. The effects are remarkable, cringe-worthingly realistic gore hounds will be happy. The vampire design is faithful to the comic, creepy, other-worldly, and a mile apart from anything that has come before it. The majority of the cast is outstanding; Josh Hartnett, who frankly used to grate on this reviewer, is growing as a leading man. His turn in The Black Dahlia impressed, and he is equally a solid and welcome presence in this film. The sound design is oppressive, and enhances the uneasiness the film tries for from almost the first scene. The vampires themselves are more like the animalistic ‘infected' from the 28 series than sexy suave man eaters, but they are not a direct rip off. There is a social structure and intelligence to them, much like a pack of wild dogs, and this helps to up the tension factor as well, knowing these creatures are one step ahead of the good guys all the time. The use of a vampire language also helps to separate them completely from the humans.

What doesn't work, at least some of the time, is surprisingly the direction: Slade does not take advantage of many moment of tension, and all too often goes for the cheap jump scare instead of availing himself of the copious opportunities throughout to have people on the edge of their seats. And although, being a fellow Aussie, it gives this reviewer no pleasure, Melissa George is annoying to listen to: her British accent ( as seen in Alias) is dead on, but her American accent is sloppy, perhaps even worse than it was in the Amityville Horror remake, and in this day and age, with so many actors flawlessly changing nationalities on screen, it just doesn't cut the mustard. But the worst element to this film is the score, with its inconsistent approach throughout and lack of emotional resonance to the scenes its supposed to be enhancing the final scene being the worst offending example.

So now begins a run of vampire films, with Joel Schumacher returning to them in Town Creek and a sequel to his classic The Lost Boys but a few months away; a remake of Near Dark; and no doubt a bevy more to follow. 30 Days of Night has certainly set a benchmark in production value to beat, and is a solid entry into the fold, but in the end goes into the rather large pile of good... not great.


DVD

DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 1.78:1

Subtitles: English; French; Spanish; Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French-Canadian: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.

* Commentary
o Feature-length commentary track with stars Josh Hartnett and Melissa George who are joined by producer Rob Tapert.
* Featurettes
o Pre-production
o Building Barrow
o The Look
o Blood, Guts & The Nasty %$#@!
o Stunts
o The Vampires
o Night Shoots
o Casting
* Animated Shorts
o Blood +: Episode One - The First Kiss (20:27)
* Trailers - Fourteen previews of other Sony features.

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging with embossed slipcase.

{pgomakase}

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