Baddie – Extreme living situations.
Lesson – Just because you -can- live somewhere doesn’t mean you -should-.
TODAY IS HALLOWEEN. I, for one, will be celebrating by attending an illustrious showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show at a one Alamo Drafthouse – what will you be doing? Sadly, this is the last vampire themed movie for Octoberween (but not even close to my last vampire themed review), but I wanted to end on the mostly-well-received 30 Days of Night. Enjoy!
30 Days of Night takes place in the northern-most American town of Barrow, Alaska, which is for some reason optionally populated. Among the other pitfalls of living basically in the North Pole, for one month out of the year they are plunged into darkness with no sunrise. The early sequences in the movie let us know with some comfort that most citizens have the good sense to leave and go south for this month of night, but some stay, including Sheriff Evan (Josh Hartnett). Before the sun can set for the last time though, weird things begin to happen.
So, this is a pretty primal movie. I can dig it – it takes the classic vampire myth and places it within deep, original human fear. The dark. I mean, sure, yes, the convenience factor is there for vampires to have no sun, and that’s a plot point, but it’s also the main carrier of the horror itself. The vampires are vicious, but not primitive looking (see: Buffy-esque vamps). They speak their own guttural language but have barely discernible race(s). They kind of…dolphin click at each other in a series of impressively creepy noises. They shake their victims, worrying like a dog at a bone. They’re fast, but they’re precise. They tease their prey a little bit. Just like Fright Night took back the elegant gentleman vampire myth, 30 Days of Night brings back the monster in the dark. Sure, there are plenty of jump scares and noise scares, but I don’t hate it when it plays off of the horror roots – it’s supposed to be obvious and in your face, because you’re already scared of the dark.
People realize what’s happening pretty quickly, to their credit. They also know that they are, uh, what’s the word…boned. They’re boned. The vampires do a fair amount of pre-feeding prep, including destroying communications and transportation out of town. Once the pretense of mystery is thrown, again echoed in plot and in horror structure, all hell breaks loose. They don’t bother hiding the vampires anymore.
You know how sound is amplified in the dark? When you’re lying in your room, every little noise is way worse than it actually is? 30 Days totally capitalizes on this. Sheriff Evan makes a little speech, something like, “We have two advantages. We know the town, and we know the cold. We live up here because no one else can.” Which is adorable, because he doesn’t yet know just how wrong he is. How, even in your own environment, darkness makes the playing field even. I get giddy at how cleverly this is accomplished. (Credit where credit is due: 30 Days of Night is also a graphic novel, so I don’t know what came from what.)
I will say, aside from the wickedly clever things that 30 Days does with amazing execution, there are a few forced tropes and moments that are kinda…well…yawn. There are things that I don’t personally find entertaining in a horror movie, one of which being the ‘creepy kid’ trope. Not a fan of things like the Child’s Play series, so for me that was a big one.
Other than that minor complaint, 30 Days of Night was an excellent way to close out Octoberween (sniff!) and I hope you had as much fun with the vamp movies as I did. Happy Halloween!