Vampires had fallen on hard times by the time the 2000s rolled around. Dressed up like delicate fops by Anne Rice, forced to get their haircuts at the mall by The Lost Boys, and fated by Mormon Fate to creep on dumpy high school girls in the near future. But at least there was a short-lived spate of awesome vampire films that essentially nailed everything that's cool about vampers. Daybreakers and Stake Land are unfuckwithable, but 30 Days of Night might be the first and best of the revamps.
Barrow, Alaska, most northern point in the US. Every year, it experiences thirty days of night, hence the title. This obviously attracts the attention of a vampire clan, who send in their own Renfield to scope out the place. A nice touch.
Let's be clear, these vampires are monsters. They don't care about soirees or sophomores, they just want to use their awesome shark teeth to kill and kill. And this movie gives them free reign to annihilate for much of the incredible early goings. Like Altered, it clearly establishes that humans have no chance in combat with the monsters and the best approach is to run and hide and hope.
For much of the film, this is the running plotline and it's exquisite! 30 Days is shot in grey interiors and snow-blotted exteriors, and it's perfect. The acting is compelling, the effects are effective.
And there are thankfully no bits of square comedy wedged into freshly-mutilated holes, unless you maybe count the poster in the background about dying on the highway. The only moment of light-heartedness you get from these vamps is the scene in which they're playing with a victim like very mean cats. And it's brutal.
Even exceptional films have to end and, if this movie wasn't to be a total day-ruiner, it was going to have to undercut the established dominance of the vampires. So what happens had to happen, but I don't have to be happy about it. The last act weakens what had been a very enjoyable film. But don't let that stop you from seeing this. It's rather splendid, all in all.