Josh Hartnett stars as Eben Oleson, Barrow, Alaska’s hard-working and dedicated sheriff. While most of Barrow’s citizens take off right before the sun disappears from their town for 30 days, Eben stays put – ready to take care of the remaining townsfolk no matter what the emergency. But even Sheriff Oleson can’t protect the people of Barrow from a pack of vampires who figure out a town pitched into darkness by 30 days without the sun is the perfect feeding ground.
Only a handful of Barrow folks survive the initial attack by the vampires who invade the town only after a crazy man longing to be a vampire (played by Ben Foster who is so good at playing loony) does all the dirty work. ‘The Stranger’ steals and then burns everyone's cell phones making communication with the outside world difficult. He also kills off all the dogs so that they can’t alert their owners about the oncoming invasion of vampires.
Those lucky enough to elude the vampires first attack include Eben’s estranged wife Stella (Melissa George), Eben’s younger brother Jake (Mark Rendall) and a few other assorted Barrowians (or maybe it’s Barrowers). The ragtag collection of survivors must use all their skill and cunning to escape from being made into vampire chow.
Danny Huston makes one of the creepiest vampires in film history as Marlow, the leader of the vampire pack. Huston’s just recognizable beneath the jagged vampire teeth and scary vampire makeup. Delivering choppy bits of dialogue in a strange, made-up vampire language, Huston is pure evil. When he tells one afternoon snack there’s no God, Huston cements his place in movie vampire history.
Josh Hartnett’s very convincing in the role of sheriff, carrying the majority of the scenes involving the Barrow survivors on his shoulders with no problem at all. George and Hartnett work well as a couple experiencing major marriage problems, and the rest of the cast do more than just scream and run around like chickens with their heads cut off. There’s a little more meat on these horror movie characters than is normal for the genre – and particularly for vampire movies – so that’s a refreshing change of pace.
The night feeders in 30 Days of Night are ugly, monstrous creatures who care nothing about those of us running around with beating hearts, other than how quickly they can kill us. These vampires are a far cry from the romanticized versions which populate TV shows. Their kills aren’t clean and neat and they aren’t accompanied by witty quips. This is a vampire story for those ready for a whole lot of gore, and for those able to accept without analyzing the rest of the plot. Puzzling over how the humans survive without heat or electricity in the freezing cold - or how they get by when they never seem to eat – is pointless. Ignore the gaping plot holes. It’s just a vampire movie, albeit one that’s a fresh, gruesomely fun take on the bloodsucking creatures.
30 Days of Night was directed by David Slade and is rated R for strong horror violence and language.