30 Days of Night amounts to two hours of missed opportunities.
Director David Slade
crams Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith's unusual graphic novel through the modern-horror meat grinder, falling back on tiresome flash cuts, routine audio screeches, and an abundance of artificial gore.
Despite the tricks, the concept remains strong. Every winter, Barrow, Alaska -- the northernmost town in the United States -- experiences a full month without sunlight. This year, an army of starving vampires descends on the town to take advantage of the natural darkness. Local sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnette
) and his estranged wife, Stella (Melissa George
), must put their differences aside long enough to protect the townsfolk from becoming lunch. Article continues below
The Night premise explains why Slade's film is so dark, but why must it be so dull? Slade's desolate frontier town of Barrow makes for a great set, and the ferocious blizzard that whips at the blood-seeking predators and their prey is a character in and of itself.
Hartnett, however, gives his typical undead performance, and Slade chooses cheap shocks over slow-building psychological fear. Night isn't serious enough to be scary, nor is it loose and goofy enough to be considered fun.Ben Foster
might be the only reason to see Night. The young actor is perfecting the homicidal maniac role, practicing it in two other movies this year -- rent
and 3:10 to Yuma
when you get the chance, but be sure to skip right to Foster's scenes. In Night, he plays a messenger who arrives in Barrow before the vampires and tries to intimidate Hartnett's sheriff with the promise of death. Foster drapes his lines with an accent you can't quite place. It's somewhere between Russian and crazy. So far this year, Foster has been the best part of three bad movies. He is primed for a breakout role, if a filmmaker can ever figure out how best to utilize his unique talents.