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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.59%
Worth A Look: 26.03%
Average: 10.96%
Pretty Bad: 21.92%
Total Crap31.51%

5 reviews, 43 user ratings

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30 Days of Night
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by brianorndorf

"I fear shaky-cam more than any vampire"
1 stars

“30 Days of Night” has a marvelous premise, a reasonable cast, and a sublime location to play around with. But the producers just had to give the material to director David Slade, a hack filmmaker of the worst kind, who drowns any promise this nihilistic tale of frosty survival held by smothering the picture in excessive, pedestrian visual gymnastics.

In the remote town of Barrow, Alaska, the sun takes a vacation for 30 days every year, leaving the locals isolated from the rest of the world. During this particular permanent night, a group of vampires (led by Danny Houston) swarm the town, gobbling up the locals without fear of sunlight to hinder their efforts. With most of the community reduced to food for the bloodsuckers, it’s up to Sheriff Eben (Josh Hartnett), his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George), and a small cluster of Barrow neighbors to survive the month while the vampires methodically stalk them.

Adapted from a well-received (and thoroughly franchised) graphic novel, “30 Days” is a concentrated horror stand-off; a survival tale with fantastical fringes, slicked with waves of blood and gore. The very concept of vampires let loose in a location that contains no sunlight to temper their hunger pains holds fantastic promise. However, “30 Days” as a movie is frustrating, more concerned with artifice than primal scream results.

I place the blame squarely on Slade’s shoulders. His debut film, 2006’s pedophile yawner “Hard Candy,” introduced a director who holds no concept of suspense, only chaos. “30 Days” is another experiment in Slade’s theory that tension is not something to nurture, it’s something to detonate. After a chilly, epic introduction to the setting and the conflict, it doesn’t take long for Slade to start digging into his bag of tricks once the vampire reign commences. A favorite of the director is clichéd open-shutter photography, executed by a cameraman who forgot to pop his seizer medication that day.

Every time a vampire moves, Slade’s frame is hurled around, making the film impossible to comprehend at times. He pulled the same tired stunt in “Candy,” and it’s even more transparent in “30 Days.” After nearly two solid hours of ocular abuse, it made me long for the John Carpenter glory years, where a filmmaker would trust his audience enough to allow them to search the details of the screen and encourage their fears, not bury them in noise and beat them into submission.

While Slade dreams up new ways to double-dribble his camera, the rest of “30 Days” wanders off into uncomfortable alleyways of illogic and flat-out neglect. A big piece missing from this puzzle was an introduction to Barrow, getting the audience used to the spatial relationships of the buildings. The community standoff plays a huge role in the second act of the picture, but it’s impossible to understand how everything is laid out, thus leading to confusion over whether our heroes are actually in danger. With Eben running all over town, there’s no way to invest in the tension when Slade doesn’t bother to address the distances, or even the passage of time, leading to many a scene that flounders when it desires the utmost attention.

The vampires are another problem that chip away at the film’s overall effect. Self-consciously designed to resemble runners-up in a “Miss German Expressionism” beauty contest, the creatures of the night that populate “30 Days” are a shrill, laughably over expressive bunch. There’s a whole lot of stiff method acting going on here, but little clue as to what make these tenants of hell tick. Mostly they stare off into the distance, seem unable to wipe their mouths after feeding (yet they manage to dress themselves in hepcat suits, go figure), and feature fanged oral appliances so big, the actors can’t close their mouths properly, or even spit out their dialogue cleanly.

“30 Days of Night” is a picture molded on a purely visceral level of appreciation. It strictly for audiences who like to be submerged and beaten instead of trusted. I found it to be one of the larger disappointments of the year; a ridiculously wicked premise lost on a filmmaker who doesn’t have the vision, patience, or slightest thread of talent to breathe life into it.

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originally posted: 10/19/07 15:14:57
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User Comments

9/22/17 morris campbell tense & grisly story is thin though 4 stars
5/09/14 Freddy Not bad but script inanities ruin the flow 3 stars
1/21/13 dmasz91 very good for a horror film, i'd watch it again. 5 stars
1/11/12 Matthew Thompson Dalldorf How do Brian Nelson and Dave Slade keep getting work? 2 stars
10/12/11 t. true Worst vampire movie ever made, barring none. Run away screaming. 1 stars
12/01/10 mr.mike Wasn't that good. 3 stars
10/13/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess By the director of 'Hard Candy,' so it obviously could have been worse. 2 stars
6/18/10 art 30 days of night makes you forget what the hell's it's name o TWILIGHT! 4 stars
9/14/09 MP Bartley Some tension and the central concept is good, but falls apart by the end. 3 stars
1/06/09 Peter North excellent horror boner salute..... 5 stars
12/02/08 mark total crap. Boring. If you like Scary, it's not scary enough, gruesome, not gruesome enou 1 stars
10/20/08 Monster A Go-Go Very interesting-great concept-disappointing ending, but it had bite! Good job. 4 stars
7/24/08 chris f boring wish i hadnt wasted my time watching this crap 1 stars
4/18/08 Pete Chesworth very good film but pity about the naff ending though where did they go to 4 stars
3/04/08 JLH Not bad. 3 stars
3/02/08 Larry M. Don't think and you will enjoy. 2 stars
3/01/08 othree Great scencey, blood & snow, all the trappings, suck finished off movie, too bad. 2 stars
2/18/08 Servo Very dissapointing, some nice gore and the scene where the town gets invaded and thats it. 2 stars
2/08/08 Mark Dumb vampires...even DUMBER townsfolk! 2 stars
12/13/07 William Goss Derivative, although w/ no shortage of gore, a sleeker sheen than most. Vampire lines reek. 4 stars
12/06/07 Bnorm I didnt like it;decent enough action though. The Vampires were stupid lookin 2 stars
12/05/07 eeli fantastic vampire carnage, one of the best horror movies ever 5 stars
11/29/07 Vagile Waste of a fantastic concept 1 stars
11/14/07 Curtis M NO Substance, NOT scary... CRAP effects. Two hours that I would really like back..... 1 stars
10/29/07 Geoff Chapman Didn't live up to its substantial potential. Wasn't scary 3 stars
10/25/07 matthew decent, but thoroughly predictable 4 stars
10/25/07 jazz eternal Because they know what I say is true and you're a no-taste having underwear stain. 1 stars
10/24/07 jazz returns It's no question that he's a faggot...with bad taste in film. 1 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann Lukewarm movie-not bad, not good. At least cool vampire make-up effects. 3 stars
10/24/07 jazz again Yeah, and you stick to your little lame ass faggot vampire movies that aren't scary, Twat. 1 stars
10/23/07 derek you're right ludicous, my bad. 5 stars
10/22/07 derek again hey jazz, stick with steel magnolias you pussy. 5 stars
10/22/07 AJ Muller It's really good, but you gotta call out Carpenter? Fuck you, Gonsalves. Seriously. 4 stars
10/22/07 Anthony G Enough with the shaky cam you no-talent hack! 2 stars
10/22/07 Notsocynical As I recall the grocery store WAS attacked. Did you even watch the movie? 3 stars
10/22/07 DonnyM I hated it. Bad Director Bad Script. Josh Harnet as the action hero. Har har. 2 stars
10/22/07 jazz Lame movie. If you saw it and liked it, you're an idiot. 1 stars
10/20/07 derek dettloff great movie. if you saw it and didn't like it, you're crazy. 5 stars
10/20/07 mike I went in excited and left disappointed. the ending was super dumb. honestly 0.5 out of 10 1 stars
10/20/07 Ole Man Bourbon 2 Hours of Shite 2 stars
10/20/07 IAMVPIRE HELL OF A RIDE!!!! 5 stars
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  19-Oct-2007 (R)
  DVD: 19-Feb-2008



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