30 Days Of Night – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director

David Slade

Cast

Josh Hartnett………Sheriff Eben Oleson
Melissa George………Stella Oleson
Danny Huston………Marlow
Ben Foster………The Stranger
Mark Boone Junior……….Beau Brower

DVD Release Date: February 26, 2008
Rating: R
Running Time: 113 Minutes
List Price: $28.95

The Movie

Barrow, Alaska is the northern most point of the United States. Year round their population is just below six hundred people, but there is one month a year when it drops to right around one hundred thirty. That is when the town is drenched in darkness for thirty straight days and some people would rather just not deal with that. Sheriff Eben Oleson makes sure that things stay sane and normal around town, but let’s face it; it isn’t like he ever has much to do anyway. This time around though, things are going to be different.

As the sun sets for the final time in a month, Barrow gets really quiet and things start to head into whatever normalcy can be considered for their month of night. But soon strange things begin happening around town that just don’t make sense. A couple finds their entire troop of dogs completely torn to shreds outside their home. Some other residents find their belongings trashed or buildings broken into. With all these odd occurrences, Sheriff Oleson has enough on his hands to deal with, but then find out his estranged wife Stella missed her flight out and will be close by for a month. Little does he know that his times of trouble have just begun.

The residents are getting worried and are starting to panic because a stranger in town has offered a warning that “they are coming.” Sheriff Oleson takes his warnings with a grain of salt, but the truth behind them is quickly revealed. More strangers are starting to fill the streets of Barrow and they aren’t there for a friendly visit either. They are a group of vampires and have come across a place that will give them plenty of victims to feed upon, and not much chance of evidence will be left behind explaining their existence. It is a perfect plan for them and a dreadful situation for the residents. Those who are left anyway. Sheriff Oleson, Stella, and a small group of survivors do all they can to survive the month and pray for the dawning of the sun.

I’ve seen just about every single vampire film known to man, and they are all essentially the same thing. The vampires attack at night while the survivors merely try to make it until morning. Some are better then others, but they pretty much follow a strict pattern. 30 Days Of Night has that pattern in it, but also brings about some new qualities that made me extremely interested in it from the first time I ever saw the trailer. The vampires looked awesome, and they do. The action seemed incredibly intense, and it is. It had a storyline that just blew me away with the humans having to not only make it through a ten hour night, but thirty whole days. The trailer looked fantastic, but that’s about all that did.

You ever see those films that happen to be tormented by a really awesome trailer, but then you go and see it and the film itself kind of blows? Such is the case here. All the good parts from 30 Days Of Night are in the trailer and it just makes the rest of the film nothing but filler. First of all, it just takes so incredibly long to get started. You’re going to be a good twenty-five to thirty minutes in before anything really gets happening. Then after that you’ll get twenty minutes of boring, five minutes of awesome. Twenty minutes of blah blah blah, five minutes of kick ass. I wouldn’t have a problem if the twenty minute intervals were nothing but dialogue as long as they made the story more interesting, but they don’t. They’re just there.

Another problem is how little is revealed about the characters in the film. Obviously there is Eben and Stella Oleson. I remember Eben’s younger brother Jake. But then that’s about it. Out of those who were left standing at the end of the film I can tell you the names of two of them. Trust me, that isn’t a good percentage of those remaining. Even Stella and Eben’s love/hate relationship is in the same shopping cart as “big deal” and “why should we care?” It is a pointless sub plot that does nothing for the film. Knowing exactly where these vampires came from too would have been a fun historical fact, but that gets no attention either. The film has potential all the way through, but just never did enough for me to really give a damn.

The Video

The film is shown in 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and it has a strange look to it. This may sound dumb, but some parts just are too dark. Yes, I know it is a film about night, but it’s not a normal darkness. The film almost looks to be twenty years old at some points instead of less then a year. All still is easily seen.

The Audio

The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it was kind of cool in the commentary for Hartnett to point out that there really isn’t much in way of a score or soundtrack. At times you hear some and it comes through beautifully, but you won’t get much. The sound effects of vampires creeping up on all sides really make for cool situations, but hearing a lot of the dialogue is a real pain. Most of the time the characters are whispering to keep from being noticed, but it is very low and rather mumbly at times.

Special Features

Audio Commentary – Producer Rob Tapert is joined by actors Josh Hartnett and Melissa George on commentary. Oddly enough, Hartnett seems to take the lead here and actually asks random questions to Tapert so as to keep there from being total silence. Hartnett takes over control of the commentary, and that is a good thing because it keeps it going and also very interesting. A lot of the discussion ends up being just about what is happening on screen and there still are some long moments of silence where everyone is just watching the film, but it’s worth checking out.

Note: The next set of features “Pre-Production” through “Casting” can each be viewed separately or all together one after another.

Pre-Production – This is a seven and a half minute feature discussing how the film came to be. The directors and writers had found out about Barrow and thought it was an extremely depressing place to be when no light hits them for a month. Throw in a love story and vampires and you’ve got yourself a flick.

Building Barrow – The actual town of Barrow, Alaska is very simple with small boxy houses and buildings and not much else. The production design team created their own town though because they had a few other ideas of how they intended it to look in their minds as opposed to reality. Oddly enough they based their Barrow on the towns of the Old West which I never realized while watching the film. Kind of neat. This feature lasts five minutes.

The Look – Now that Barrow was built; it was time to give it the right look. Sure Alaska is very cold, but now they wanted it to look even colder hence the amount of gray colors seen. Director David Slade is shown a lot acting out scenes and showing how he’d like things to be done. There is a good bit of discussion also about what types of cameras would capture the feel of the film in order to give it the proper look. This feature lasts about six minutes.

Blood, Guts, & The Nasty #@$&! – And now it is time for the special effects portion of our tour. It’s a film about vampires so you know there is going to be blood and lots of it. Here you can watch the make-up people create the wounds, fangs, and everything else that made you cringe while watching the feature. Slade said he didn’t want to always go for the total “gross-out” feel, but just give people a general idea and eerie feeling. Six and a half minutes long.

Stunts – People are flying, getting dragged through windows, being pulled under houses…we all know that the actors just can’t do those things properly and risk getting hurt. This seven and a half minute feature showcases the stunts and how they were properly planned not only to keep people safe, but so they would look as realistic as possible.

The Vampire – Now, the piece de’ resistance. When the filmmakers were coming up with the look of the vampires; they wanted the baddest vampires imaginable. In no way at all did they want sweet looks or remorse in their eyes, but simple and total evil. I enjoyed this five minute feature a lot because it showed all the choreography of how the actors were taught to walk together as vampires and move and everything. It is short but incredibly educational.

Night Shoots – As is clearly obvious, almost the entire film needed to be filmed at night. Some shots took place in a big warehouse on a soundstage, but others couldn’t be done but outside and on night shoots in order to get them right. This bit is kind of funny because it gets a lot of the views from the cast and crew on how they felt about shooting over night many times. Be prepared to see people randomly falling asleep all over the place. Five and a half minutes.

Casting – These are your basic casting sessions, but also not so basic. Here in an eight and a half minute feature, the casting sessions for the roles other then the main parts are shown. Vampires, townspeople, and others are focused on. It’s interesting watching the vampires perform with no fangs, no blood, and in regular clothes because that isn’t how you usually see one. These people are good though I must admit.

Blood Episode : First Kiss – I’m not quite sure what this is except maybe for it being a Japanese animated series. The twenty minute episode shows a young girl that seems extremely troubled by many things. She is trying to live her life, but also has strange flashbacks to a time she can’t quite recall. Throw in some very weird vampire creatures and you’ve got yourself a series. If you’re a fan of anime, then you are sure to enjoy this. Available March 4 on DVD.

Trailers21, Sleuth, Boogeyman 2, Rise: Blood Hunter, , Black Water, Resident Evil: Apocalypse – Deluxe Edition, The Grudge, The Grudge 2, The Messengers, The Tattooist, and Fearnet.com

The Inside Pulse

To say I was disappointed by this film would be an understatement because this is one that’s been on my “must view” list since before the first trailer even made its appearance online. Vampires are just some of the coolest creatures in creation and this drew the line between their real existence and being only figments of literature. That perhaps is the only part of this entire film that really kept my interest in it long enough to sit through the duration of it. Unfortunately, that segment took all of five minutes and then faded off into obscurity. The special features included keep the DVD from being a total bust, but who really wants to see extras on a film that sucks? 30 Days Of Night would have to go down as a huge letdown and an opportunity wasted. I’ve never read the novel before, but this is one time it is clearly evident the book will be better then the movie. Now where’s my copy of The Lost Boys?

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for 30 Days Of Night
CATEGORY RATING(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

3
THE VIDEO

7.5
THE AUDIO

7
THE EXTRAS

6
REPLAY VALUE

3
OVERALL 4(NOT AN AVERAGE)