By Andrea Pyka
The fearsome bloodsuckers in the new film “30 Days of Night” are a far stretch from the gang of crazy teenage vampires in local cult favorite “The Lost Boys.”
Based on a 2002 graphic novel written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Ben Templesmith, “30 Days of Night” follows a pack of vampires who travel to the outskirts of Barrow, Alaska in search of warm-blooded humans to satisfy their craving for blood.
As residents prepare for a month without sunlight in secluded Barrow, families retreat to their homes while town sheriff and the film’s protagonist Eben Olemaun — played by Josh Hartnett — investigates a series of bizarre events, including the death of sled dogs and disappearance of cell phones. Before long, vampires begin to invade homes and take over the town.
However, Eben and his estranged fire-marshal wife, Stella — played by Melissa George — lead a group of inhabitants to safety within a hidden attic, where their brewing impatience and gripping fear lead them to become infected or killed by the unwelcome fanged guests.
The stark darkness and silence of Barrow provide an ideal feasting ground for the nocturnal creatures.
While “30 Days’” portrayal of vampires employs typical Hollywood fare — they attack at night and turn to dust when they come in contact with sunlight — some original alterations are added.
Perhaps the film takes heed from director Danny Boyle’s 2003 zombie-flick hit “28 Days Later.” David Slade’s vampires are freakishly dexterous; they travel by rooftop and make formidable hunters.
Unlike the blood-hungry zombies of “28 Days Later,” the “30 Days” creatures show a measure of intelligence when they use humans as bait and try to dispose of any evidence of their existence.
Slade also makes some changes to the appearance of his ghoulish protagonists by trading in the usual fangs for a mouth of shark teeth.
What’s more, his monsters communicate in a language that sounds much like a broken record player. Although the movie provides helpful subtitles, the only comprehendible phrase is a spine-tingling emphasis on the words: “No God.”
“30 Days of Night” may not be your next ideal movie date, but it earns points for its gruesome visual effects and eccentric cinematography.
There are strong visual contrasts between oozing blood and fresh Alaskan snow, and unusual camera angles, including an impressive bird’s-eye view of the vampires’ massacring the town. Certain camera angles and the juxtaposition of the silent night and screams of dying victims lend the film a certain Hitchcockian feel.
The combination of unconventional elements of “30 Days of Night” creates a new spin on traditional vampire films. With a strong supporting cast and modernized vampires, this film is a well-thought-out rendition of the successful comic book series that just might leave you clenching your neighbor’s armrest.