Fantastic Fest Review: '30 Days of Night: Dark Days'
I think we all have a healthy attitude about straight to video sequels. We know they’re not going to be careful attempts to forward the story, but they can either have fun with it or not, and either way it doesn’t ultimately matter. Well, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days is not fun, and it is aggressively bad even by DTV standards.
More after the jump...
It starts right when Eben Oleson burns up, so they don’t have to worry about replicating Josh Hartnett. Kiele Sanchez fills in at Stella Oleson, sitting in front of a fake green screen recreating the final shot of 30 Days of Night. Then she catches us up on how they rebuilt her Alaskan hometown and covered up the vampire attack. Now she holds seminars to educate the public and lay traps for vampires. That’s where a group of hunters (Rhys Coiro, Diora Baird, Harold Perrinneau) find her and she joins them to go hunt vampires.
No effort was put into the script. All the dialogue is direct and straightforward, just explaining the plot and nothing more. Stella’s got a plan, the hunters have a plan, the vampires have a plan. The vampires’ master plan is actually pretty good. They should have led with that instead of saving it for the end when it’s already too late to get interesting again.
The film just plods through information we already know, not only vampire information but just being human info. The new hunting posse disagrees with each other but they go off and hunt vampires anyway. A character who gets bitten asks his friends to kill him so he doesn’t become one of “them.” If you’re going to play that way, don’t try to make it a big character moment. Treat it like it’s just what happens in vampire movies, because it is.
There’s no fun in this movie and it’s definitely not cool enough to be serious. The characters are all so morose. Oh, my family was killed by vampires, boo hoo. There are so many pauses between lines, and they’re only waiting to say more obvious clichés. If all you’ve got is exposition, at least get through with it quickly.
Plus, it’s so stupid. First they have a scene where they discuss how guns don’t stop vampires, then they pick a gunfight with vampires. There’s nothing exciting about firing guns into the dark. It’s all handheld shaky cam and there are some shots that I imagine came from the graphic novel, but look ridiculous in live action.
The new vampires are no sons of John Huston. Mia Kirshner is at least somewhat slinky as the leader Lilith, and she looks good getting out of a blood bath and showing her butt. The vampire underlings speak English though. Because why menace silently when you could be explaining your intentions and motivations? There’s even a good vampire who drinks hospital blood. That must totally turn the vampire story on its head! Can you imagine a GOOD vampire???
Every scene looks like a straight to video movie with simple staging. Cheap looking sets like a back alley, ferry boat and vampire lair feel totally unpopulated. There’s even a really unconvincing sex scene. You wouldn’t think you could mess that up, but here we are. Plus, Stella has sex with her bra on, because in movies women always leave their bras on when they have sex.
It doesn’t have to be like this. They can do crazy twisting stories like The Hills Run Red or solid copies of franchise movies like Universal Soldier: Regeneration. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise about the Fantastic Fest screening. The first few gore shots got cheers, but the mood of the audience steadily dropped so eventually even money shots played to silence.