30 Days of Night (2007)
Every once in while an established genre will get a new interpretation that gives it fresh impetus. 30 Days of Night did exactly that to the Vampire mythos ten years ago and is a very good horror film as well. Based on a well-known series of graphic novels by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, it tells how a remote Alaskan town falls under siege by a group of the undead, during the extended period of darkness that comes in winter; the thirty days of night of the title. Local Sheriff Josh Hartnett suspects something is wrong when the remote towns transport and telecommunications are sabotaged. Is the vagrant arrested for these crimes a lunatic or a “familiar” for more sinister forces?
What is refreshing in this instance is the fact that the Vampires back story is left suitably vague. There is also a complete omission of any religious inference. There are no crucifixes wielded here. The human characters are also likeable. The themes of death and how we face it are explored with people you have sympathy for. The production also has some solid special effects. Be warned, there is a lot of brutal violence. Heads are hacked off rather than swept of the neck with a single blow. 30 Days of Night also attempts to join that exclusive cinematic club of showing a child killing on screen. However, as the child is a Vampire, it does not quite have the same impact.
I haven't enjoyed a film of this kind as much since Blade 1 and 2 and the seminal Near Dark, which is the revisionist vampire film by which all others must be judged. It is good to see the undead treated in a way other than the traditional Eastern European idiom with all the psycho-sexual connotations. No capes, no bats or camp accents. In this instance, they are simply a force of nature that needs to be endured like the winter nights themselves. Be warned, if you are a fan of traditional romantic conclusions, then you may balk at 30 Days of Night ending. The film is hard edged and doesn't pull its punches. Don't say I didn't tell you.