30 Days of Night

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Photos from 30 Days of Night – David Slade, 2007. This one’s more about the potential than the finished product. Amidst all the vampire film clones, there’s precious little innovation. Some appears to be on the horizon, but really interesting vampire movies are hard to come by. Off the top of my head: Blade II, From Dusk Till Dawn, Night Watch and Let the Right One In, which comes with tremendous praise, though I’ve yet to see it). I want so badly to add 30 Days of Night to this list. The premise is fertile ground: citizens of an Alaskan town that experiences a month of darkness each year are visited by a mysterious brood of ancient vampires. The vampires are strong and fast and scary as hell. There’s lots of snow. And darkness. This thing should be stark, beautiful, and incredibly taut. And yet it is only any of these things in fleeting doses. Slade’s pacing fails him–though it is difficult to dramatically render the tension of hiding out for long periods of time, it is certainly possible. If a little fat from the inane divorce story of Josh Hartnett and Melissa George were trimmed off this movie, it would have been a much leaner beast and perhaps the segments that seem to drag now would have bristled with real terror and anxiety. A director like a young George A. Romero (I’m thinking specifically Night of the Living Dead as essentially a one room film) could have downplayed the focus on action set pieces and upped the claustrophobia and psychological angst. I hope this set up is revisited at some point, perhaps by a director and writer who understand how powerful the source material could be at an hour and half instead of an hour and fifty minutes.

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