Thirty Days of Night (2007)
Directed by David Slade

Starring Ben Foster Craig Hall Danny Huston Danny Huston Josh Hartnett Manu Bennett Melissa George

Based on a popular graphic novel and helmed by the director of "Hard Candy," you'd think "30 Days of Night" would be a near masterpiece. For its budget, "Hard Candy" was one of the best thrillers in years. Produced by Sam Raimi, "30 Days of Night" featured a huge budget and a great concept: vampires take over an Alaskan town where there are 30 days of nothing but night.

It was one of the most hotly anticipated horror films of 2007, with just about every site on genre films going on and on and on about the production and how great it would be. Unfortunately, the film has some great moments and clearly is based on some effective source material. But the performances fall flat, the characters are one-dimensional and even the villainous vampires look like an over-hip army of Marilyn Mansons. In short, "30 Days of Night" is an OK fear film, better than direct-to-video dreck, but not much more. It's even below "Blade: Trinity."

The film opens with a little bit of soap opera drama between town sheriff Hartnett and wife who now doesn't want him Melissa George, who also happens to be town's fire marshal. (The two are probably the best looking Alaskan law enforcement officials in the history of the state.) When George misses her flight out of town before the 30 days of night that are about to beset the town and someone else mysteriously kills all the town dogs you know we're being set up for a massacre and a reunion between husband and wife.

A Renfield-like drifter is arrested for causing trouble, and he hints that bad times are on their way, freaking out Hartnett's family assigned to watch over him in the town jail. When the vampires show up in full force to massacre the town, they look uber-hip and may be Russian, speaking in either Russian or some kind of vampire dialect. They quickly wipe out most of the town, leaving Hartnett, George and a ragtag team of survivors left to hold up in an attic and figure out how to survive the month before the sun comes up.

Despite a "Night of the Living Dead"-style plot and even a screaming-killer-vampire-kid, "Days" falls flat. The characters are too one-dimensional. The shaky camera action popularized by horror films like 2004's "Dawn of the Dead" and "28 Weeks Later" is overused here. And the hissing foreign-language chatting vampires, with all pointy teeth, make for dull, screaming villains.

Slade misfired with this one, but that didn't prevent it from making big box office.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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