Monday, 29 October 2007

30 Days of Night...

Danielle Ni Dhighe ( ) reviews the new Sam Raimi vehicle -

"30 Days of Night" - In 2002, IDW Publishing published a comic book
miniseries by writer Steve Niles and artist Ben Templesmith that
reinvigorated the vampire genre. Unfortunately, the much anticipated
film adaptation produced by Sam Raimi (director of the "Evil Dead" and
"Spider-Man" films) is a big disappointment.

Barrow, Alaska. A town so far north that it's in complete darkness
for thirty days every year. A group of vampires led by Marlow (Danny
Huston) decide to make a feast of its residents during those thirty
days, and so the carnage begins. Can Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh
Hartnett) and his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George) save
themselves and the town?

Director David Slade ("Hard Candy") delivers impressive visuals and
some effective scenes of the town being decimated, but as a whole
fails to create much in the way of suspense or emotional connection to
the plight of the characters. Never mind vampires draining people of
blood, the life's been drained right out of this film. Scenes that
are meant to scare the audience are flatly directed. Scenes that are
meant to make us care about the characters are uninteresting.

The screenplay credited to Niles, Stuart Beattie ("Pirates of the
Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"), and Brian Nelson ("Hard
Candy") is generally faithful to the story in the miniseries, but
where the source material offered originality and well-realized
characters, the screen version is predictable and surprisingly thin on

Cinematographer Jo Willems ("Hard Candy"), production designer Paul
Denham Austerberry ("Resident Evil: Apocalypse"), and costume designer
Jane Holland ("Riverworld") do a remarkable job of translating
Templesmith's art onto the big screen. It literally looks like you
stepped into the panels of the comic book, right down to the Max
Schreck by way of a shark look of the vampires, who are impressively
realized with makeup and visual effects. The visuals are the best
thing about this film. The discordant score by Brian Reitzell
("Stranger Than Fiction") effectively conveys a creepy mood.

The cast is solid. There are no great performances, but no bad ones,
either. Besides Hartnett, George, and Huston, the cast includes Ben
Foster as a human who does the dirty work of the vampires before the
sun sets, Mark Rendall as Eben's teenaged brother, Mark Boone Junior
as the rugged loner Beau, Manu Bennett as the deputy sheriff, Megan
Franich as one of the vampires, and Amber Sainsbury, Joel Tobeck,
Elizabeth Hawthorne, Nathaniel Lees, Craig Hall, and Chic Littlewood
as the principal survivors of the first night.

"30 Days of Night" is visually pleasing and technically well made, but
as a dramatic presentation it's all rather anemic. A story about
people facing unthinkable horror and trapped in an isolated setting
simply shouldn't be this dull.

[2 out of 5 stars]

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