Saturday, November 03, 2007

First Impressions – 30 Days of Night – the movie

Perhaps it was a huge amount of anticipation, or being too aware of the graphics, which has led to me leaving the cinema disappointed…

No, over all I think this was just a relatively poor film. A note here, this is not a full review of the film but my first impressions – a review will only occur when I have watched the DVD and can study the film in depth.

So, what was good? Well, in short, the vampires – but that owes all to Steve Niles – they are sadistic, brutal and animalistic. These vampires shun the Ricean pathos and generic romanticism and that is refreshing – but all was not good with the vampires. It is clear that the filmmakers wanted to make them outsiders but I couldn’t understand why we had to have a strange language thing going on with subtitles.

Other than the vampires much of the film missed the mark. Looking at divergence from the graphic novel, making Eben and Stella estranged was unnecessary, the entire Vicente sub-plot was missing as was the input from New Orleans. The bug eater parts were less powerful as he was more a mortal man and the iconic scene of Stella and Eben first seeing the vampires stood casually in the snow was missing. The film also failed to make it clear (in fact it didn’t even mention) that the vampires had a disadvantage because the cold killed their sense of smell. Okay, I admit that we cannot expect an exact make of the graphic but these were all elements that either needed to be in or shouldn’t have been played with.

The film looked cheap. It was grainy, for no adequately explored reason, and there was a scene of an attack in the bedroom where the set looked cheaper than a lot of straight to DVD films I review. That scene reminds me of another issue. The violence in that scene was best described by a friend when he said it was sadistic. No real problem with that but the film makers then pulled short on other scenes for no adequately explored reason. Talking of gore, how come, after 18 days, there was blood pooled in the Sheriff’s station – it would have been frozen or dried.

There is a scene with a child vampire that had the potential of being one of the most iconic child vampire scenes ever shot but missed the mark entirely. If you have seen the child zombie scene in the Dawn of the Dead remake you have seen a much superior scene.

Generally the acting was poor to average, and the first graphic may have been poor in characterisation but it was a masterpiece compared to the film.

However, the biggest problem was in the action sequences. At first it seems fine, there is an attack on Eben and Stella in a car. A vampire is on the roof and the camerawork is shaky but it works. Thereafter all the action scenes have shaky camera sequences and it looks rubbish – to be honest if you are going to shake the camera like that it means, to me, that you have no confidence in your action sequences.

All told I was, as you can probably tell, very disappointed – indeed I thought the freebie Blood Trails was vastly superior. To be fair, the film is ‘jumpy’ in places, and it is very gory (despite seeming coy during certain scenes) and the vampires themselves save this slightly. However, I was hoping that this was going to redefine the survival horror film and put vampires firmly back on the map. I really feel that, when I do the full review, this is going to get no more than average marks.


Derek said...

This movie has been very polarizing. I personally loved it, mainly for the vampires. But i have to admit that part of the problem I liked it so much was because ehre in the U.S.A., the vampire genre has been overrun with romance novelists. And we're not talking about the "romanticized" vampire books, like those of Anne Rice. I am talking about full-on Romance novels. And the vampire genre seems to be more and more equated with romance than with horror. So maybe I am biased in that regards. Has the paranormal romance plague hits overshore yet?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Derek - it certainly has - hence why I said the good thing about the film was the vampires.

There is a book shop recently opened in a nearby town and I popped in - as is my want. They had, at first glance, a vast number of vampire novels but on closer inspection each and every one was a vampire-romance novel.

The great thing about the 30 days graphic novels was the move to brutal vampires, I just didn't think the film worked to well other than that. However, I do hope we are seeing a backlash against the romance-vampires, certainly books such as 13 bullets continue the trend that 30 days started.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I should add to that last post that I realised I mentioned Ricean vampires. Whilst I enjoy (most of) the Anne Rice vampire chronicles I did begin to get sick of vampires that whine!

Derek said...

I loved the first four Anne Rice books - they are, to me, the pinnacle of 20th century vampire fiction. While I hated the wave of whiny vampire books that followed, they were preferable to the current trend to just make them full-on romance. It just makes the entire genre look bad. Whatever genre one writes in, I wish someone would have commitment to the material a genuine love of vampires. Not a love of the money they can sucker out of people, not a love of writing fan fiction and changing the names, but a love of the concept of vampires.

I really need to read 13 Bullets.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Derek - I can't disgree, they (full on romance novels) do make the whole genre look bad. It is often very clear that certain genre media were made for the sake of financial gain and not for love of the genre itself - and that is a shame.

13 Bullets is still available online, here, but I found it difficult to read in that format - for no other reason than the fact that I hate reading books on screen and much prefer paper in my hands.

CrabStiX said...

Badly written (better dialogue in an Ed Wood movie?), badly acted (Josh Hartnett should get go into porn because all he gives is wood -albeit worried wood!:-) made myself laugh out loud with that one! Sorry), badly directed (shaky-vision, non-drying or freezing blood), badly plotted (30 days cooped up together and facing imminent death before Eben and Stella find time to have a heart-to-heart? P-LEEase!. Oh yeah, and apart from the gorgeous aerial view of the carnage early on, all its best visuals and action moments were nicked from other much better films (such as Salems Lot, Blade 2, Hellraiser, etc., etc.)Total waste of the price of admission in my view... roll on Will Smith... IAL cannot be any worse than 30DL.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

now don't be pulling any punches Crabstix!