Wednesday, October 6, 2010

30 Days of Night: Dark Days

[WARNING: This review of necessity reveals spoilers for the first 30 Days of Night, so if you haven’t seen it, want to, and don’t want its secrets revealed prematurely; you might want to give it a miss. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.]

I was pretty pleased with the original 30 Days of Night, which I thought was a fun movie, if you didn’t think too hard, so I was happy to hear a sequel was filmed. I knew there was a long series of comics that continued the original story, so I had hopes this would help. The movie was released direct-to-DVD October 5th.

The end of the first 30 Days of Night left the town of Barrow, Alaska pretty much devastated. 98 dead, including the sheriff, Eben Oleson. Among the survivors was Eben’s widow Stella, who was understandably haunted by the events. What happened was covered up and blamed on the explosion of an oil pipeline, but Stella wrote a book about what really happened and travelled the country lecturing about the fate of Barrow. Her claims are met with skepticism at best, laughter and derision at worst.

In Los Angeles for another lecture, Stella connects with a small team of vampire hunters. They tell her the Queen of the Vampires, Lilith (it is unclear if this is the character from folklore), is in Los Angeles. Lilith was the brains behind the attack on Barrow, and rules the vampires. The fearless (not really) vampire hunters sell Stella on a plan to kill Lilith for revenge, and because without her, the vampires will fall into a disorganized rabble, instead of their usual lightly-organized rabble.

None of the cast of the original return. Melissa George wanted to reprise her role as Stella, but a scheduling conflict forced the part to be re-cast, which is a pity. The cast of the sequel is mostly unknowns, except for the Annoying Guy from Lost. The acting is adequate but unexceptional, although the actress playing Lilith is quite hot, in a cool-to-the-touch walking corpse sort of way. The budget is much less than the first movie, so the effects are slight and average.

The three new guys sell themselves to Stella as experienced vampire killers, but their idea of planning a mission consists of finding where the vampires hang out, then charging blindly in, hoping to get lucky. They don’t, for the most part. Their reaction to the sight of a vampire and/or blood is pretty much hysterics. The other woman in the group in particular seems to get about three steps into a vampire den before cracking up and whining about running away. When she’s not around vampires, she does a lot of bragging about how tough she is. The capabilities of the vampires vary wildly. They are supposed to be stronger and faster than humans, unless a scene calls for them to just stand there and be killed. Some can be killed with a bullet to the head; some are made of slightly sterner stuff. It just strikes me that three of four people with guns shouldn’t be able to attack dozens of vampires and make it out alive.

I won’t go into details since most of you haven’t seen the movie (I presume) but the end features three separate illogical head-scratchers. Maybe the disc should come with a pop-up of the director to explain what the heck just happened.

Despite all these flaws, it wasn’t a completely unenjoyable film. It works as the sort of action movie where you shift your brain into idle and just go with the flow. The biggest shame, I think, is the movie could have been so much more.


Peter said...

I was worried when I saw the preview some time back.

Oh well, like you said. Just put the brain on idle and chow down on the popcorn.

John Hornor said...

I have all these graphic novels. They're really fantastic works, the art, the writing.

Shame the movies don't live up to them. I did like the first 30 Days movie, however.

KentAllard said...

The movie's biggest mistakes come when it deviates from the graphic novels.

Rabid Fox said...

Ugh. Direct to DVD? Dang. I might see if I can find a copy of this floating around, but it sounds like I don't need to clamber for it.