Review: 30 Days of Night Dark Days DVD

STUDIO: Ghost House/Sony | DIRECTOR: Ben Katai | CAST: Kiele Sanchez, Mia Kirshner, Diora Baird, Harold Perrineau, Rhys Coiro, Monique Ganderton
RELEASE DATE: 10/5/10 | PRICE: DVD $24.95, Blu-ray/DVD combo $30.95
BONUSES: commentary, featurettes; BD adds interactive featurette
SPECS: R | 92 min. | Horror | 1.85:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, French, Korean, Spanish and Cantonese subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Like its 2007 theatrical movie predecessor, the DVD premiere independent film 30 Days of Night: Dark Days loosely follows the plot of the 30 Days of Night graphic novels about vampires and humans killing one another against a thematic backdrop of despair and nihilistic vengeance.

In this installment, Stella, the heroine of the first film (played with robotic melancholy by A Perfect Getaway’s Kiele Sanchez, who was doubtless chosen for her resemblance to the actress from the first film) is transplanted from Alaska to Los Angeles, where she takes the fight to the night-stalking predators.

Like its graphic novel inspiration, Dark Days eschews the romance of immortality by emphasizing that vampires are not role models. Here they resemble George Romero zombies (original Night of the Living Dead) with fangs rather than cultured, immortal aristocrats.

Stella and some young attractive pals (including Harold Perrineau from TV’s Lost and rising genre queen Diora Baird, whose trademark curves are hidden beneath lavers of winter attire) hop from one ghoulish underground battle to another, sparing no opportunity to splatter blood and spray gunfire.

But as much as the movie wants to be Blade or Dawn of the Dead, it compromises too much between macho cool and psychological horror to truly succeed at either.

The performances, special effects and direction are competent, but all suffer a little from a budget that’s smaller than the first film’s. (They couldn’t even rope in Josh Hartnett to reprise his role in a five-second cameo, replacing him with a look-alike.)

But these faults are forgivable in a direct-to-disc film, and this format in fact addresses the frustrating lack of gratuitous vampire kills and vampire lore that plagued the original.

Even the making-of featurette on the DVD feels as though it was created to satisfy the fans.

We’re thinking this dark action movie will lure fans of the series to, um, try a bite.

 

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About Alex

Alex Kikuchi loves movies of every size and variety and has fancied himself a film critic ever since Mystery Science Theater made it look so easy when he was a kid in the 1990s.