It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
A gaunt stranger haunts the streets of Barrow, Alaska, warning: "That cold ain't the weather. That's Death approaching." Since Barrow is said to be the northernmost town in America, 300 miles of roadless wilderness from its closest neighbor, and 30 days of continuous sunless night are commencing, I expected someone to reply, "You could have fooled me. I thought it was the weather."
But, yes, it is Death, which is very cold. In "30 Days of Night," Barrow will soon be invaded by vampires, who have apparently trekked across the 300 miles of ice and snow wearing their street clothes. You'd think they could find easier blood to drink in Fairbanks or Anchorage, but sunlight is fatal to vampires, and so the month of perpetual night in Barrow lures them like Canadians to Florida.
Their method of attack is the standard one in creature features. They move with loud whooshes at lightning speed when you can't quite see them, and with ungainly lurches when you can. They are a miserable lot. Count Dracula at least had style and a sense of personal destiny; these guys are merely obsessed with their next meal. They don't even speak that elegant Hammer Films English; they talk like a garbled transmission played backward: "Qwe!nt raqulo*gg brop#sith!" The movie, which speaks their language, helpfully provides subtitles. It is intriguing to think of newly converted vampires attending language classes at Berlitz, since I do not think Chomsky's theories of speech apply to the Undead.
But I could go on like this all day -- or night, that is. Something about vampire movies brings out the one-liners in me, unless they are directed by Dreyer, Murnau or Herzog. The fact is, David Slade's "30 Days of Night" is a better than average example of the genre, even if it follows the time-honored pattern of supplying a macho man who gathers a hardy band in hiding while the vampires snuffle about. Josh Hartnett plays the local sheriff, who teams up with his estranged wife, Stella (Melissa George), another law enforcer, who missed the last flight out of town. (Planes can't land in Barrow at night. Don't ask me why.)