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30 Days of Night(2007)
For 30 days every winter, the isolated town of Barrow, Alaska is plunged into a state of complete darkness. It's a bitter time when most of the inhabitants head south. This winter, a mysterious group of strangers appear: bloodthirsty vampires, ready to take advantage of the uninterrupted darkness to feed on the residents remaining in town. Barrow's Sheriff Eben, his estranged wife Stella, and an ever-shrinking group of survivors must do anything they can to last until daylight.
For more about 30 Days of Night and the 30 Days of Night Blu-ray release, see 30 Days of Night Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 20, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: David Slade
Writers: Stuart Beattie (I), Brian Nelson (II), Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster, Mark Boone Junior, Mark Rendall (I)
» See full cast & crew
30 Days of Night Blu-ray Review
Blood-curdling terror on Blu-ray!
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 20, 2008
That cold ain't the weather. That's death approaching.
If I had the know-how and the resources to make my own movie, it might very well end up looking something like 30 Days of Night. The Vampire genre is one of my favorites, and although there are certainly some real duds scattered about (Subspecies, anyone?), the film industry is far from saturated with movies featuring these creatures of the night, and that generally keeps the quality of such films fairly high. Thankfully, 30 Days of Night keeps the tradition of good vampire movies alive with an original story, fine acting, good effects, plenty of gore, and a great, creepy score. Based on a comic book miniseries by the same name, the story proves fresh and captivating and is a natural extension to vampire lore, ripe for the big screen.
Strange happenings are afoot in the sleepy town of Barrow, Alaska. Barrow is much like your average small town, except for the fact that it is the northernmost city in the United States and undergoes prolonged periods of constant darkness. On the last day before thirty days of night, all the dogs in every kennel are killed, all the satellite phones are found burned outside of town, the town helicopter has been gutted, and the computer system goes down. Seeing as sunlight is the primary enemy of bloodsucking vampires, it only makes sense that they would inevitably wind up in Barrow at the time of the sun's prolonged sabbatical, having carte blanche to do and eat as they choose. Of course, they're behind these shenanigans, completely cutting off the town, leaving her residents next to helpless as they wait for their turn to have the life literally sucked out of them.
One thing these vamps didn't count on was the resiliency of several of the town folk, including sheriff Eben (Josh Hartnett, Black Hawk Down). Along with several other residents, including his stranded ex-girlfriend Stella (Melissa George, Turistas) and Eben's teenage brother Jake (Mark Rendall, Charlie Bartlett) he holes up in various locales around town, hoping to wait out the perpetual night plaguing their town, the only thing keeping the vampires from splitting. The vampires have an agenda of their own on top of the need to feed. They enjoy the darkness, both in the literal and figurative sense of the word. On top of needing darkness to survive, the vampires also prefer to remain only figments of people's imaginations and nightmares, heightening their effectiveness as killers when they strike. They cannot leave town until every last trace of it is gone, including its residents and structures. Eban must fight with any means at his disposal--literally--to fend them off and save his town.
While by no means a perfect movie, 30 Days of Night is an engrossing and entertaining new spin on the vampire mythos. One aspect of the movie I really enjoyed is the lack of understanding by the townspeople as to what is happening for quite a bit of the picture. In that sense, the movie creates a rather realistic atmosphere where panic is the order of the day, and the only information the residents have is that people are being slaughtered right outside their homes by an unknown enemy. Blood literally runs in the snowy streets, and the town becomes so saturated in it that the blood almost becomes a character in and of itself, recalling the horrors of the picture and reminding us incessantly of just how much damage these creatures are capable of inflicting. When the people start putting two and two together, not everyone assumes the "traditional" approach seen in vampire films of the past will work. When discussing the merits of cooking the vampires under the light of a sunlamp, one character notes that, "just because it worked on Bela Lugosi" doesn't mean it will work in real life. Such dialogue and thought, not to mention the sheer terror and tension on display and the real-world way in which characters behave throughout the film lends instant credibility to the story and easily puts us in the middle of the horror.
Technically, I found the film to be mostly excellent. The direction and cinematography are stunning. An excellent series of overhead shots showcase some of the most unique perspectives I've seen in years. We see the sparks and flames of shotgun blasts, blood spilled all over the snowy landscape, and people running for their lives from the vampires. It's an amazing sight and proves to be the perfect way to show us the complete despair and hopelessness of the situation. There is plenty of gore on display here, most of it looking very realistic, though one or two special effects shots came across as obvious fakes. I also enjoyed the look of the vampires. While they certainly appear slightly altered from the normal human countenance, they lack the extreme facial contortions of those vampires found in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Lost Boys. I preferred this look. The changes were obvious, but not so extreme that you would definitely notice a vampire should they be walking parallel to you across the street. Also excellent is the music by Brian Reitzell that plays more as a series of scary sounds rather than a traditional film score. This is the third film he's scored (Friday Night Lights and Stranger Than Fiction being the others) and it is appropriately creepy and intense. Overall, this is a fine movie that delivered what I expected and entertained me from beginning to bloody and surprising end.
30 Days of Night Blu-ray, Video Quality
30 Days of Night bites into Blu-ray in 1080p high definition and inside its original 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio. Besides a few minor blemishes, this image is impeccable. Detail is incredibly high, though it lags slightly behind a few other titles in this department. I've found patches sewn onto uniforms to be a very telling sign of how detailed an image is. I look for stitching and legibility, and both are clearly present and accounted for here. A few shots, mostly close-ups of faces, exhibited a very slight bit of blurriness that kept this from delivering as a perfect transfer. There was also a minor instance of haloing visible on a distance shot of Barrow early on in the film, especially around the steeple of the church. Otherwise, everything else about this transfer is first-rate. Colors, as expected for a film taking place mostly in the darkness and cold, are appropriately drab, but reproduced nicely nevertheless. Black levels are just about perfect with fine detail in darker scenes, and blacks also stay true to life, never brightening artificially to reveal image and detail. Flesh tones are accurate. As the film wears on, we see the color fade from the skin of the human survivors, turning a dull and cold gray, while the vampires maintain their normal flesh tone. As expected, the print is immaculately clean and free of defects of any sort. This is a first-rate effort from Sony (again) and even though the final score comes just shy of perfection, this one comes close. Well done.
30 Days of Night Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As usual, Sony delivers in the audio department, providing an enthralling Dolby TrueHD lossless soundtrack. Right off the bat, the viewer is enveloped in creepy atmospherics emanating from the rear soundstage. In fact, surrounds are in play for the vast majority of the movie's runtime, providing a seamless entry into Barrow and into the middle of the slaughter taking place all over town. Vehicles whiz by over your shoulder. Random screams, cries for help, and shotgun blasts litter the rear, creating an immersive and completely frightening experience. We are treated to pulsating, room shaking bass during the opening of the film that carries over into the rest of the experience as well. On the high end, the shrieks of the vampires are powerful, loud, and effective. They are completely convincing and downright scary. In chapter three of the film, their shrieks envelop the viewer as the camera pans around a victim, and each shriek is precisely imaged in each speaker for this extra-intense scene. Dialogue is crisp and seamless, focused in the center and sounding natural. The hint of fear is ever present in the voices of the actors, and every audible and frightened syllable is reproduced with ease. I found nothing to dislike about this track, and it delivers in spades, adding nothing but fear and fun to this impressive vampire movie.
30 Days of Night Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
While not a jam-packed special edition, 30 Days of Night on Blu-ray offers viewers some nice supplements nevertheless. First up is a feature-length commentary track with actors Josh Hartnett and Melissa George and producer Rob Tapert. I would liken this track to one of the "pop- up trivia tracks" that we are seeing more and more on Blu-ray. The participants offer up some halfway interesting stories and tales from the set and several lighthearted moments, but there isn't an abundance of substance. This is a fine, laid-back track that's really only worth a listen if you've nothing better to do. 30 Images of Night allows the viewer to see full-screen images from the film that correlate to scenes from the graphic novel on which the movie is based. This is a nice feature, and one that would have benefited greatly from implementing it as a profile 1.1 feature, running it over the entirety of the film.
Also included are eight featurettes. Pre-Production (1080i, 8:27) looks at the development process from the comic to the screen. Building Barrow (1080i, 5:15) looks at the contrast between the real town of Barrow and the one more suitable for the film. Also examined is the digital and physical creation of the town itself. The Look (1080i, 6:48) showcases how the feel of the film enhances the palpability and fear therein. Blood, Guts, & Nasty #@$&! (1080i, 7:24) looks at the violence in the film and the props and make-up used for the gruesome effects throughout the film. Stunts (1080i, 7:15) examines several stunts throughout the movie: The Window Crash, The Car Attack, Roof Ambush, and the filming of several other sequences with a bit of a gag reel at the end. The Vampire (1080i, 5:57) begins as a fun, mock television documentary on vampires, featuring images from the film and around the set. The feature then morphs into interviews with the crew about vampire lore and how to make believable vampires for the film. Night Shoots (1080i, 5:59) discusses filming a feature length, Hollywood movie at night and the toll it takes on the cast and crew. Finally, Casting (1080i, 9:05) discusses the process of filling all the roles in the film. Concluding the supplements are 1080p trailers for Sleuth, Steep, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Fearnet.com, and The Messengers and a 1080p Sony Blu-ray promo.
30 Days of Night Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Combining elements of John Carpenter's The Thing, Dawn of the Dead, and The Lost Boys, 30 Days of Night is one of the best vampire movies to come along in recent years. The story itself is infinitely clever and original and made for a very fine cinematic experience. While certainly not an award winning caliber film, 30 Days of Night offers up plenty of blood and gore on top of a great story to satiate the appetites of horror and vampire movie fans. On this Blu-ray release, fans are treated to extraordinary audio and video quality and a decent amount of extras. 30 Days of Night is a very good vampire flick, a standout Blu-ray disc, and highly recommended!
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30 Days of Night Blu-ray, News and Updates
• 30 Days of Night: Dark Days Blu-ray in October - July 8, 2010
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced 30 Days of Night: Dark Days for release on Blu-ray on October 5, in a two-disc BD/DVD combo edition. This direct-to-video thriller, based on the second book in the graphic novel series created by Steve Niles, takes ...
• 30 Days of Night Coming to Blu-ray - December 14, 2007
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring '30 Days of Night' to Blu-ray on February 26th, day-and-date with the DVD release. No specs have been announced at this time, but expect 1080p video and TrueHD audio. Extras will include either ...
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