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Monday, October 22, 2007

30 Days of Night

I caught the first showing of 30 Days of Night last week, the vampire flick based on the Steve Niles comic books from IDW Publishing.

Like the comic, this is solidly mature fare -- and really well-executed.

Great tone, scenes, and characters make the translation from the source material.

Writers Niles, Stuart Beattie (Collateral), and Brian Nelson ("Earth: Final Conflict") turned out a solid script, and music video director David Slade turns out a tightly shot horror flick that feels more substantial than Underworld (a horror flick that feels like a music video; and I like that film).

Josh Hartnett surprised me in this role -- the guy is connected and authentically emotive, and fun to watch. Ben Foster is an actor's actor in this film, having gone from chisel-buffed, clean-shaven, squeaky clean Angel in X-Men: The Last Stand to the dirty, creepy, Cajun-infused and Renfield-like "The Stranger" in 30 Days of Night. Very impressive.

I also liked Mark Boone Junior, one of those constantly hard-working actors you see and go, "Oh, I know that face."

The vampires in the film are less fleshed out than the series, but Danny Huston and newcomer Megan Franich are stellar as the iconic vampires from the print run.

On the technical side, I need to watch the film again, but there were some weird interactions that felt like they were cheated way too much toward the camera than to the onscreen conversant. I noticed this in at least two Hartnett scenes, and maybe more.

On the content side, this is rough stuff. And while I like the trueness of the translation of the books to film, I am concerned that more and more of the rules of horror films (no harm to children and animals) are being violated. Not sure what that means on the slippery slope front.

Be that as it may, if you're not the queasy side and you like good vampire flicks (it's been dry for a while), I highly recommend 30 Days of Night.

And if you're not familiar with the book series, I envy the newness of the franchise for you.

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