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30 Days of Night: Dark Days (2010)
While 30 Days of Night was far from a classic, it did have its own kinetic energy and thankfully showed us vampires that didn’t sparkle in the sunlight and hang around high schools brooding. The vampires in 30 Days of Night were feral, vicious creatures with only one driving desire: blood lust. Their fingernails were deadly long talons, they spoke in a guttural, yipping language of their own, and their eyes looked made out of coal. (Needless to say, they do not have corncob pipes or button noses.)
The original film had the unique setting of Barrow, Alaska to offer us, where the sun dips below the horizon and doesn’t rise for… guess how many days. (Actually is it really sixty-five, but we got it modified to a month.)
Now the sequel moves us to Los Angeles – but I’d personally have headed to the city of lights – Las Vegas. In the beginning when we see Stella holed up in her hotel room surrounded by boxes from SUNMAX I thought this was going to go the way that I had wanted Darkness Falls to end – we see the surviving character (or characters) living totally surrounded by high-powered electric sun lamps, every shadow obliterated. Well, that isn’t where this is going, and I won’t tell you what use Stella does make of the SUNMAX supplies, because it is one of the few original scenes in the film.
Stella, is now on the lecture circuit, going around and doing speaking engagements about the ordeal at Barrow – trying to bring the truth to light, one may say – everything, you see, was blamed on the first film’s climatic oil fire, with the vampiric elements covered up. Well, no one really believes Stella’s tale of the undead siege, which makes me wonder – what happened to all of the other survivors from the first film? It wasn’t just Stella. We are told that Barrow has been rebuilt now – are they still there? Why wouldn’t she bring them with her? They could obviously collaborate her story. Are they in hiding? Was it too painful for her to stay in touch with them? Did they decide to go all denial-y? The film never addresses this and it especially confusing because the script almost seems to want us to believe that Stella was the only survivor.
Also, here, Stella is replace by Kiele Sanchez, and although she is just fine in the role, I sorely missed Melissa George, who is a vastly underrated actress.
I enjoyed the angle they were taking with Stella in the beginning, but sadly after these few initial scenes, the story takes a major misstep as our Ms. S is approached by a motley crew of vampire hunters who inform her there is a vampire Queen named Lilith and that she must be destroyed.
So the plot plods along, going exactly where we know it will (the ending is telegraphed twenty minutes before we get to it) and the characters die in exactly the order they always do (and we know they will) – gee, really the black guy is killed first?
Another confusing change is that now the weapon of choice used against vampires is almost exclusively guns, where in the first film it was said that bullets did not even slow these creatures down.
There are so many familiar elements here from far superior vampire franchises – Buffy and Angel, True Blood, Dracula, Near Dark and ESPECIALLY the third Blade film. They even throw a little of Argento’s Opera and Neil Marshall’s The Descent in for us. I was grateful at least, that none of the characters was toting around a camcorder, filming everything.
I actually had to give the first another look-see after viewing this because I had almost convinced myself that I’d made a major blunder in not hailing 30 Days of Night as a masterwork – I hadn’t, but one could be forgiven for thinking that way after watching this lazy sequel. Shocking it went direct to DVD, isn’t it? There really is nothing here for us to… sink our teeth into… (sorry.)
Steve Niles, one of the authors of the graphic novel and its sequel that this was based upon, was the first-billed writer of the screenplay – that being the case, my suspicion about the original source material (which is ballyhooed as some of the best) continues to mount. Though, I still really do want to track down that 30 Days of Night / X-Files cross-over volume. C-