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Movie Review

30 Days of Night

MPAA Rating: R for strong horror violence and language

Reviewed by: Chris Sosa
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Horror, Thriller
Length:
1 hr. 53 min.
Year of Release:
2007
USA Release:
October 19, 2007
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures

Blood in the Bible

Murder

How does viewing violence in movies affect the family? Answer

Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Answer

God

God

How can we know there’s a God? Answer

What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

Featuring: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster, Manu Bennett
Director: David Slade—“Hard Candy”
Producer: Nathan Kahane, Mike Richardson, Joe Drake
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

“30 Days of Night” is the latest installment in the constantly-evolving vampire-film collection. In this latest installment, a town in Alaska is descended upon during its thirty days of darkness. This small town is hardly prepared for such an infestation, so it’s up to the town’s young sheriff, Eben Oleson, to control the ever-escalating violence. This proves quite a task as these aren’t the vampires of yesteryear. Fast as lightning and with super-strength, one wonders what vampire legend the writers had in mind when penning this movie.

The first area of concern for Christians will most likely be the violence. While it does not approach the nearly unimaginable levels of “Saw III” or many of the other popular torture-porn films, “30 Days of Night” is very gruesome. Vampires constantly use their teeth to rip at their victims throats. The main character is prone to using decapitation as a control method. Machinery is used to rip at the vampires. Necks are broken in graphic fashion on multiple occasions. Characters are impaled. Particularly unsettling are scenes in which the vampires slash at their victims until they decide that their victim has suffered enough torture, at which time they rip into their throats. Characters are shot, run over, beaten, etc. All violent scenes are in no short supply of blood. Also, one of the opening scenes depicts an unseen villain stabbing a dog to death. Later, a gruesome scene is shown in which all the dogs have been mauled.

Aside from the violence, the only concern for most will be the use of harsh language. The f-word is used over ten times, with a few milder profanities throughout. There is also a plot point that involves pot, but no characters are shown using pot. Also, one scene contains some mild sexual dialogue.

Now onto the spiritual side… This film is oddly not concerned with spiritual matters, in spite of its vampire theme. But “30 Days of Night” is more akin to Underworld than Dracula. The only blatantly spiritual scene involves a vampire coming across a helpless victim screaming that there is no one to help her. The vampire asks, “God?” He looks up, looks back at her, shakes his head to say “no,” then murders her.

Morally, this movie is a repulsive. The lead character murders multiple people, each time using some sort of extenuating circumstance to justify his killing. In his favor, the one killing was an attempted mercy killing. Blood and gore are used for entertainment, more than any sort of plot device. A little girl-turned-vampire is used for shock value as this child is decapitated by the leading character.

From an artistic viewpoint, this movie is rather terrible. The plot loses steam less than half-way through the movie, and it really wasn’t that exciting from the start. This isn’t helped by the acting, which goes from average to painful. And even worse are the vampires. I’ve scene scarier creatures in haunted houses. While one or two were genuinely creepy, many were somewhat laughable. The only area that succeeds is the cinematography and editing. The color scheme is perfectly suited to the atmosphere, creating a genuinely chilling environment. The editing is also used to great affect in chase and attack scenes. However, this can’t pull the film out of its awful plot and execution.

The film alternates between being laughable and repulsive. It plays the mindless gore card so often, any perceptive audience member can’t help but feel insulted. As mean-spirited as this movie tends to attempt to be, it’s nearly impossible to take seriously because of how incredibly bad it is. I felt like I was watching what could have been a tense and edgy Steven King film disintegrate into a freshman attempt at horror. It even had the half-wittedness to reference the classic “Dracula” during the film, just reminding the audience of what they could have been at home watching.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Mild

Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Answer

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Overall, I thought this movie was amazing. Yes, it was very violent, but rather than focusing solely on the violence, it uses the violence to further the intensity of the story and build up our fear of the vampires. It is a rated R movie, so don’t go see it and then act surprised when violence starts rearing its head. There is also a handful of language in the movie, but it is very minimal compared to most movies these days. The movie has an incredible message of sacrifice and persevering no matter what the cost. The characters face an almost unstoppable evil, and there fear is so palpable, that every time they survive an encounter, you can’t help but be excited. Overall, it’s a great horror movie for adults.
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
—Andrew, age 19
Positive—For a rated R-movie in today’s society this was very good. My husband and I very-rarely attend R movies, however when we saw that this rating was pertaining to some language and violence, we figured we’d give it a try. If you don’t like blood or monsters, or if you are under the age 13, this movie is not for you. This movie is gruesome in the fact that vampires are taking advantage of a town in Alaska that has one complete month of night per year. They ransack the town, killing the vast majority of its members by feeding off of them. The vampires were quite scary and unlike any portrayed in any other movie of its kind.

…thankfully none of the cuss words were G-D’s. There was no nudity and only one very mild sexual joke. Overall, I’d give this movie a 4 out of 5 for Christian movie-goers, however like I stated before, there is violence. If you don’t like blood and if you have a child under the age of 13, beware and stay clear.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 4
—Heather, age 25
Negative
Negative—I kept having the feeling that I was watching spiritual darkness manifested on my television… this movie unfortunately did have a fair amount of blood and violence and a very ominous feeling throughout. I really hope that people will just not even bother watching because this movie left me feeling very sad that I was even watching it (as Paul wrote, “why do I do what I do not want to?”)…

I think one of the biggest problems with movies like this is we now mistake over the top blood splatter with “suspense”… we don’t know how to live on the fear of the unknown, because now the “unknown” is IN YOUR FACE.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Angelica, age 23
Negative—Having nothing to do on a Friday afternoon I went down to my local movie theater to check out the latest comic book-to-film adaptation, 30 Days of Night. Now me being a big fan of comic books, I thought that 30 Days of Night did a decent job of adapting the story from the pages of the graphic novel to film. Even though the film wasn’t entirely shot in comic book fashion (e.g. Frank Miller’s “Sin City,” “300”) director David Slade did manage to pull off some pretty impressive (if violent) shots in the film using panels from the comic. This added that much needed comic book feel to the film that I thought was lacking a bit.

I also thought that the story in the film was a little more detailed than the graphic novel’s, even if it still had some plot holes in it. For example, in the film Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) has a conflict with his wife, Stella (Melissa George). Even though the conflict is played out throughout the film, the writers never make any mention of what the conflict was in the first place.

Now that I got the positive out of the way, let me get to the true bone of my opinion of this movie: It’s violent! It’s gory! It may even give you nightmares! Now me being a Christian, watching human beings being slaughtered by vampires that I thought had more demonic characteristics than vampiric was very sad.

Ironically the scene that scared me the most wasn’t even violent, it was more psychological. The scene included a young teenage girl being brutally beaten to the ground by the vampires. The leader of the pack slowly walks over to the young woman and kneels to her level. The girl then makes a comment about God. The vampire whispers God’s name under his breath, slowly looks up to the sky as if he were waiting for a sign and then looks back at the girl. “No God…” he whispers to the girl before the vampires pretty much maul her to death. As you can see, this movie/comic book isn’t exactly morally inspiring.

It’s sad that we have to put up with a world that at times has a screwed up conception of Christianity. At times while watching this, I felt like I had made a big mistake buying a ticket to see this movie, which I’ll admit, I did. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a horror film and now I remember why: because it always manages to some way or another bash the God I live for everyday. Do yourself a favor, if you happen to be a Christian comic book fan, I would advise that you’d stay away from this movie, anyway. Besides, everyone knows that the only thing scarier than watching vampires eat through a human being is watching Josh Hartnett act!
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 3½
—Nestor A., age 18
Negative—Do NOT take kids to see this movie. Do NOT rent this and let your kids see it. If you are a parent, be a good one and leave your niños out. This fanfare is strictly for adults, and if I had kids of my own, I’d say they weren’t allowed to see it—til they were out from under my roof. I can’t believe I saw it. I certainly don’t recommend you see it. It is a very graphic, carnal, in-your-face, vampire-laden film rife with many killings and bloodcurdling screams. The makers went all out. This is not your run-of-the-mill vampire story; it is a genuine “horror” flick. The plot is based on an north Alaskan town that experiences 30 days of darkness annually—the perfect buffet for a clan of vampires. And that’s it. Fill in the rest of the blanks in this game of survival.

There are about 10 or so f-bombs scattered throughout the movie, with the majority of them (as well as the other curse words) ironically in the beginning before the invasion. What language there is is just so out of place. Most all of the vampire dialogue is campy (or monologues… I can’t remember, but I think the leader was the only one capable of forming sentences other than Raarrragghahaghah!!!… AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGhghghghghh!!!…) and the humans don’t boast anything much better.

Many of the action scenes use that now hip method of shaking the camera. Yuck. Many of the snatchings are unbelievably fast and the end fight is hokey.

There’s nothing to be caught off-guard with in this tale; it’s a very simple, linear story with a major beef: the vampires don’t scour the houses daily in this small Alaskan community. They just sit around on their rumps or rooftops if you prefer and wait for action.

The small group of survivors last for days on in at various locations—unbothered, unhindered—which is totally absurd. Then again, if the vampires acted a little more intelligently and searched all the houses regularly, then the people would be ratted out and the film wouldn’t hit the one hour mark. But, all is not bad.

What’s praiseworthy about the film is its effectiveness in making you recoil in disgust. These vampires are terrifying and downright hideous. The actors are all unknowns, but are perfectly convincing in their roles as the blood-thirsty undead. Also good is Ben Foster, a versatile young actor you’ve seen as Russell Crowe’s right-hand man in “3:10” and as Angel in “X3.” Alas, these small footnotes don’t redeem “30 Days of Night.” Skip it. In a world devoid of God, but complete with vampires, there’s nothing to be gained in this vehicle for violence, except maybe a greater awareness of how desensitized we’ve become.

Don’t pull a Jacob; remember to be mindful of what you feed your spirit. “Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a trivial matter for the house of Judah to do the detestable things they are doing here? Must they also fill the land with violence and continually provoke me to anger? Look at them putting the branch to their nose!” Ezekiel 8:17.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Jacob Keenum, age 21