30 DAYS OF NIGHT-United States-113 Mins. 2007
Directed by David Slade
Written by Steve Niles and Stuart Beattie and Brian Nelson
Based on the graphic novel by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith
Josh Hartnett as Eben Oleson
Melissa George as Stella Oleson
Danny Huston as Marlow
Ben Foster as The Stranger
As I was midway through watching 30 Days of Night one thing dawned on me; why didn’t someone think of this before? Vampires in Alaska? Surely somebody had the idea before this. Doesn’t matter, though. What matters is that it’s an idea that works. 30 Days of Night is one of the best American vampire films to come around in a long time. The film is based on the highly acclaimed graphic novel of the same name and written by Steve Niles with art by Ben Templesmith. It is directed by David Slade and it is his second feature film. Like his first film, the controversial Hard Candy, it is a film that he can be proud of.
The film reminded me of two other films, both directed by John Carpenter. The first is his remake of The Thing in that both 30 Days of Night and The Thing are about an alien menace that terrorizes a small group of people who are cut off from the rest of the world. The people take refuge and begin to work out a plan to either fight back or escape and that in itself reminded me of Assault on Precinct 13. I wonder if David Slade was influenced by Carpenter in the same way Carpenter himself was influenced by Howard Hawkes.
Josh Hartnett is impressive as the sheriff. His facial expressions remind me a bit of Tommy Lee Jones. Ben Foster plays The Stranger, the Renfield of the story. The vampires use him to prepare the way for their arrival as if he were John the Baptist preparing people for the coming of Christ. Only Jesus never had fangs. Foster always looks different in every role and it is sometimes hard to get a bead on him with his strange mannerisms. However, I feel that he was perfectly cast in this film. Marlow, the leader of the vampires, is portrayed by Danny Huston. Huston brings just the right amount of menace to the role without going over the top. His Marlow is one part Dracula and one part Don Vito Corleone.
Whether 30 Days of Night is considered a classic in the years to come remains to be seen. There have been better vampire films made since then (Let the Right One In) and there have been worse (Twilight). 30 Days of Night fall somewhere in between the two. Thankfully, it leads more toward the former.
According to David Slade, veteran director Sam Raimi was slated to direct the film when the script was in its earliest stages; then Raimi opted to produce instead.
A picture of Steve Niles, who wrote the original comic book, hangs in the attic hideout.
Most of the night shots were actually shot during the day, using the day-for-night process.