30 Days of Night (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I’m constantly perplexed by the amount of new vampire movies that are continually coming out these days. While its true that the genre will likely never die (pardon the pun), I find it interesting and intriguing that there are so many takes on the interpretation of these fictitious beings. As I sat down to watch “30 Days of Night” I could only remember one thing: the trailer that featured an ominous being chanting “No God” to an unwilling and anonymous person. It turns out that the movie does fit on my template for new Hollywood movies (and thankfully not all movies fit this template) in that it’s either a sequel, adapted from a comic book/graphic novel, a remake or an adaptation of a television show. “30 Days of Night” finds its roots firmly planted in the comic book world as it was a graphic novel a few years back.

The movie takes place in Barrow, Alaska the northernmost town in the United States. It just so happens that the town is so remote and situated so far north that for one month a year, it’s night (hence the title). The town’s population decreases by 400, they outlaw liquor and life continues, albeit at a very slow pace. We meet Sheriff Eben Olesen (Josh Hartnett) and as we get a peek into his life we learn that he’s separated form his wife, Stella (Melissa George) and trying to work out some issues of his own. That all comes to a halt, however, as a group of vampires are tearing the town apart by destroying all means of transportation and thereby keeping the town isolated. It’s not long before an all-out bloodbath ensues (again with the pun) and only a select group of survivors have escaped the massacre. The group is led by Eben, naturally, and his family are among the living for the time being. As the movie progresses, we see their fight for survival and see just how desperate the situation is. Will they make it out alive or will the vampires ravage this town as they have others for the past few centuries?

It’s hard to really put a stamp on a vampire movie in that they could all be considered alike, yet so different. Is there really any connection with “Interview with the Vampire”, “From Dusk til Dawn”, “Underworld” and “30 Days of Night”? No, not really. Aside from the fact that they all contain vampires, the way they’re depicted is completely different in each of these films. The genre obviously shows no signs of slowing down and I have to admit that I’m somewhat fascinated by the whole phenomenon. I’m also a big fan of Josh Hartnett and was wondering if his career as an “A” list movie star was on the decline or if this was a movie he did just because he wanted to. Whatever the case, I found “30 Days of Night” entertaining, yet not particularly frightening.

Video: How does it look?

The visual look and feel of the movie is certainly one of the aspects that sets the mood and as we learn from one of the featurettes, most of the outdoor scenes were actually filmed (yes film not HD) during the day over blue skies and then later digitally “transformed” to look as if they were shot at night. The 2.35:1 AVC HD transfer is certainly indicative of a new to Blu-ray movie in that the images are razor sharp and there’s not a whole lot to compromise the transfer. With that said, the 2.40: 1 image does have its faults. The movie has about four minutes of scenes that aren’t surrounded in black and thus we do get a bit of artifacting in some of the shadows. Granted, with all of the manipulation being done to the film it was expected and it’s not really too noticeable, but it is present for sure. Flesh tones seem a bit oversaturated and those of the vampires are caked in so much white makeup, I wasn’t sure if the filmmakers were staying true to the graphic novel or they just needed a new makeup artist.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is one that has a few great spots and the rest are about average. The movie does fall into the trap in which we can literally sense a scary scene about to happen. This is, of course, accompanied by a loud blast by the speakers and the effect does work the first few times. There’s not much of an ambiance except the wind blowing (there’s a blizzard for the majority of the movie) which does give a good idea of movement. Dialogue is very rich and natural and I had no real complains with the way this sounds.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This Blu-ray disc contains enough supplements to warrant a purchase for fans of the movie, but these are fairly informative. We start off with a commentary track with actors Josh Hartnett, Melissa George and producer Rob Tapert as they give us the low down on the shoot, the special effects and all of that blood. It’s a decent track, Hartnett is a little dry but I found it informative. We then delve into the featurettes that give us the details on the casting, the special effects, and the look and feel of the movie as well as the stunts. These run a few minutes in length and do give us some insight into what it took to make this graphic novel a reality. Exclusive to this Blu-ray disc is a graphic novel to film comparison gallery as we can see how some of the different cells from the graphic novel compare to the final product on screen. Let me just say it’s amazing how close some of these really are.

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