Way back in July, I posited several ways in which producers could ruin the 30 Days of Night movie adaptation. I’m pleased to say, my fears were put to rest. A loud, startling, screeching, bloody rest. If you’re into that kind of thing. And if you are, then the flick was a satisfying, but not perfect, adaptation of the source material in the fantastic graphic novel.
As I mentioned in the original post, here’s the premise:
Sunlight-averse vampires converge on the tiny, remote town of Barrow, Alaska, in the beginning of winter, when darkness lasts for a month. Imagine a group of stoned-out hipsters converging on the only 24-hour McDonalds in town at 1am, and you get an inkling of the feeding frenzy that ensues. Bad news if you’re the food.
First I worried that the producers would create a PG-13 treatment for some very strong R-rated source material, a la Live Free or Die Hard. Thankfully, no worries on that front. In fact, should an Academy Award be created for Most Gratuitous Beheading Scene… Ever, then I’d like to make the first nomination.
I also thought Josh Hartnett–as the town sheriff leading a small group of survivors trying to last through the thirty days of night–might drag the movie down with his acting range, which is usually limited to ‘stone-faced’ and ‘poker-faced’. But, I’ve got to give the kid some credit. He even made a stretch for ‘sad’ and ‘upset’ a couple of times, and I totally bought it. Well. I 83% bought it.
A particularly tenuous plot development in the book was wisely tweaked to make it more palatable at the climax of the film, addressing another one of my concerns. The climax did suffer, however, from a less-than-satisfying final confrontation… which was quickly forgiven in light of the many other varied and dramatically-violent vampire encounters throughout the movie.
As for the ending… it’s almost completely loyal to the book. Not your typical Hollywood cop-out. Cheers to the filmmakers.
The movie did depart from the material in the book in a couple of sensible and entertaining ways. First, a subplot about vampires hunters / low-budget-anthropologists from New Orleans (yeah, what?) was abandoned for the film. Also, the movie provided contexts for some really fun visuals that just wouldn’t have been as effective on the printed page. One such scene found a gang of vamps taking on a hardcore Alaskan redneck behind the wheel of a trencher. Good times. Good times.
When a stake through the heart just doesn’t satisfy…
So here’s the notable and distracting problem with this vampire movie: the vampires. In the graphic novel, the vampires were intelligent, english-speaking, chillingly-stoic beings… until they attacked, when they exploded with brute force and violence.
The cinematic versions of the vampires had the brute force and violence thing down. And they certainly physically resembled the creatures in the book. But these vampires spent a lot of time mugging for the camera. Specifically, with a lot of excited, animalistic movements, accompanied by a lot of hissing and screeching. Oh, the screeching. Let’s just say a bad impression of a rabid vulture is more annoying than scary after a (very short) while.
And for some reason, the vampires spoke an unsophisticated form of what sounded to be… Klingon. Seriously. Completely unnecessary. Also? Laughable.
Occasional vampire-originated distractions aside, the film adaptation stays loyal to the tone and story of the excellent source material of the graphic novel… and it’s a more-than-solid choice for vampire movie enthusiasts.
Buy the 30 Days of Night graphic novel on Amazon.com.