30 Days of Night Has Some Clever Vampires
The surprising irony when it comes to a fictional film setting is when the reality is even more exaggerated. Here’s a fact, when the sun sets in the city of Barrow in Alaska during November, it doesn’t rise until January (that’s just a rough approximation, officially, the period can last anywhere between 51 to 67 days). Yes, a whole city, with a population of just a little over 4,000 people, spends around two entire months without sunlight. If you’re a vampire with an aversion to sunlight but has a need to be around food, then this city is the perfect hunting ground. This is the basis for the setting for 30 Days of Night, which literally gets just 30 days of nighttime. Imagine how big a challenge the protagonists would face if the writers decided to make it closer to the real deal.
From Film to Comic to Film
Like many interesting films about fiction and fantasy, 30 Days of Night is based on a published comic book series. So yes, technically, this movie is a comic book to film adaptation. What only hardcore fans of the series know, however, is that 30 Days of Night was always meant to be a film –the idea was rejected by studios so the creators decided to turn it into a comic. The biggest surprise for creator Steve Niles, was that after the comic finally hit the shelves, he started getting offers for a film –even from producers and studios who have rejected the original pitch in the first place. Not surprisingly (Hollywood being Hollywood), all of them denied having rejected the pitch too.
Okay, so we’re all clear on the basic premise. Each year, Barrows, Alaska loses sunlight for a whole month. And vampires, led by a leader called Marlow, have decided that they deserve a nice long winter buffet. However, the humans are not about to go down fighting. Sheriff Eben Oleson managed to survive, and so did a several others who live in the small town. Among these other survivors is Stella Oleson, Eben’s estranged wife who missed her flight out of town before the long night started.
The resulting movie is an amazing viewing experience. With Eben and Stella, we get to see their shaky resolve to work together in order to survive the ordeal as well as providing the other survivors with a way out. The vampires are depicted as menacing and tenacious hunters, combining both supernatural abilities and smart hunting tactics to chase down the survivors. Of course, there’s also a lot of internal struggle for the characters to fully absorb and accept the fact that their enemies are indeed, vampires.
Rise of a Hero
The film’s climax shows Eben along with several other survivors realizing that they have no choice but to fight. Even if the vampires have not managed to find the hiding spot of the survivors, the undead bloodsuckers still plan to burn down the entire town in order to hide any evidence of their presence. If the survivors stay hidden, they will burn. If they run out, the vampires will find and kill them. As a last resort, Eben chooses to allow himself to be turned into a vampire so that he can defeat Marlow in a fight. After saving the town and defeating Marlow (and driving away all the other vampires), Eben allows himself to die when the sun finally rises.
A Smart Kind of Horror
We love the way this film works, much of the suspense and scares comes from legitimately scary moments –instead of weak mortal characters making stupid decisions. This is even more true for the earlier parts of the film –when most of the people are not aware that there are vampires at all and are simply trying to get through the long night just like any other day (this is normal for them after all).
But when the humans are finally aware that vampires are hunting them, it gets even better. The humans start getting smart, and so do the vampires. While the added cold and bad weather is causing the acute senses of vampires to fail, it is still a tension-filled game of cat and mouse between the two groups. The story does take on a slightly different tone near the end when Eben starts to fight back –which is a good direction for the film to go since scary can only get so far.
More to Enjoy
If you liked 30 Days of Night, like we did, then you would also enjoy the comics. Or even the direct to video sequel/prequels. While the acting and production values are certainly not as impressive as the first film, they do expound more into the mythos, and actually provides a deeper insight to Stella and Eben. In terms of its place in the larger story, the 30 Days film is an establishing prologue to the bigger tale.