Let me first start out this review by saying that the 30 Days of Night series and first film are held in high regard with me. The movie fascinated me and basically is what propelled me back into the world of comic books and graphic novels. The first 30 Days of Night movie was so different than what we had been getting fed at the time on the theme of vampires. Vampire novels and books at the time that the original 30 Days came out in theaters had been reduced to romantic sparkling figures who sulked through their eternal life regretting what they were. Gone was the frightening imagery of a rabid undead who didn’t think about what it was doing. It just knew it needed to eat to survive.
That’s what made me so fond of 30 Days of Night. It was scary and disturbing. It was also mysterious and didn’t really give you all the answers to the questions I had. Basically, all you really got was that some vampires somehow found out about a town where it’s dark for 30 days and decide to go to an all-you-can-buffet vacation. While sitting in the theater, I kept asking myself “Where did these vampires come from?” Thus, I picked up the graphic novel and read it and loved it. The movie was pretty loyal to the book, give or take a few things here and there. It answered all my questions I had about the original film.
Things are a bit different in 30 Days of Night: Dark Days. The story has been altered quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong. It still starts the same and ends the same, but it’s the in-between that has been modified to make it more “grand” I guess. Here’s my problem. I can’t really start railing on the guys who adapted the comic for film because one of them is the actual creator / writer, Steve Niles. How can you tell the guy that made up the original story and created the world your watching that he did his job wrong (not saying that he did)? You really can’t. He has the right to do what he wants with it. Niles didn’t fail in his adaptation to film, it’s just that the project turned out different than what I figured it would.
In 30 Days of Night: Dark Days, “it has been a year since the isolated Alaskan town of Barrow’s population was decimated by vampires during its annual month long sunset. Riddled with grief over the death of her husband Eben, bound by nightmares and void of all emotions beyond hate and sorrow, Stella Oleson has spent the past months traveling the world, trying to convince others that vampires exist. Met with skepticism and laughter, she is ready to throw in the towel when a group of lost souls offers an incredible opportunity: the chance to exact revenge upon Lilith, the vampire queen responsible for the assault on her sleepy Alaskan town. With nothing remaining to live for, and nothing left to fear, Stella joins their mission and ventures into the uncharted underbelly of Los Angeles where she pushes herself to the most extreme limits to stop the evil from striking again.”
Director Ben Ketai is no stranger to the world of 30 Days of Night. He shot the two web-series that were based on the comic book series entitled Blood Trails and Dust to Dust. Both of those were executed well and if they were a test for something bigger he apparently passed with flying colors. Ketai definitely doesn’t shy away from the blood and guts. His version of the 30 Days world is a direct extension of David Slade’s vision of it.
Kiele Sanchez does a great job of stepping into the role of Stella that was played by Melissa George in the first film. Mia Kirshner plays the head vampire Lilith with a quiet and unemotional air that is particularly disturbing when you watch her feed and kill. Everyone else in the film takes their individual roles seriously and do a great job.
I only have two problems with the movie and they’re nothing too big. First, the film isn’t as mysterious as I wish it would have been. We’re pretty much led through the whole time by the hand and know what is going on. It’s more obvious than the first film is what I’m saying. It’s just my personal tastes since the book itself isn’t really all that mysterious either. My second problem is that it almost has that straight-to-DVD “running around in an enclosed area” feel to it at times, if you know what I mean. Not all the time, but there’s a lack of sweeping shots. A lot of the action happens in enclosed rooms, warehouses, and hallways that could be filmed on a soundstage. I wish I could explain it better.
Since I brought up the straight-to-DVD subject, why don’t I go over that a bit. besides what I said above, the movie really doesn’t feel like it had a budget crunch or anything. It doesn’t look like a cheapo DVD release. You can definitely tell that the studios and producers involved really put a great effort into making a good follow-up to the first film. As far as special effects are concerned, it doesn’t appear that they held back anything.
Overall, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days satisfied my hunger (pun intended, haha!) and is definitely an entertaining watch. Steve Niles obviously did what he wanted with the adaptation since he is credited as a screenplay writer and I’ve seen him listed as a producer somewhere as well. It also leaves room for another sequel in the end if this one does well. I would recommend this movie to lovers of vampires that want them dark, dirty, vicious, and ugly. There’s definitely no sparkle here, folks.
30 Days of Night: Dark Days has been released in two formats. You’ve got your choice of a Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo and a single disc regular DVD package. here’s a breakdown of what each package features:
Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo:
– Filmmaker Commentary
– The Gritty Realism of Dark Days Featurette
– Graphic Inspirations: Comic to Film Explorations
– Downloadable 30 Days of Night: Dark Days Theme for your PS3
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, WidescreenAspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Subtitles: Chinese, English, French, Korean, Spanish
Single Disc Version:
The Gritty Realism of Dark Days Featurette
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Subtitles: Cantonese, English, French, Korean, Spanish