30 Days of Night: Dark Days (2010)

As with most ‘Direct-to-DVD’ sequels to large theatrical releases, quality wise, this sequel to the cool 2007 original is a pale shadow of its BIG SCREEN predecessor. The story follows Stella, a survivor of the Barrow Massacre of the first film, as she searches high and low for the clan of vampires that destroyed her town…and her husband. Her travels take her to Los Angeles where she encounters a rag-tag group of vigilante-minded vampire hunters, all having suffered similar experiences at the hands of the blood-thirsty, annoyingly shrieking fiends. I have no idea how accurately this plot follows the storyline of the graphic novel series, but this cinematic offering feels cheap and overly straight-forward. They do try to inject some cinematic sensibilities but compared to the visceral punch of the first one, they fall WAY short. It also doesn’t help that some elements seem to have only been given half a thought instead of careful and intelligent calculation. Hell, some of it is just downright silly. Like the fact that, at one point, the cardboard cutout protagonists feel that it’s a good idea to set off 12 lbs of C4 plastic explosive (that they just happen to have) RIGHT BEHIND THEM as a means to flood a warehouse hive with sunlight during a battle. Not only is the resulting explosion woefully small (C4 is powerful shit, guys) but the worst injury to the characters is a dislocated wrist and unconsciousness. No deafness, no missing extemities…even their clothing is left intact. Added to which, apparently the LAPD has The Worst Response Time in the World given that what sounds like Mogadishu circa 1993 erupts within the city limits (including said C4 blast) and not one siren is heard. There’s also an ‘outta-left-field’, gratuitious sex scene that just spontaneously happens as two of the survivors patch themselves up in a dingy bathroom. It’s completely at odds with the entire reason that Stella is hunting the vamps to begin with, which is to avenge her beloved and deceased husband. But NOOooo…taking a little time to fuck some dude (bare-back, no less) she’s known for a day and a half, in a filthy bathroom, seems like the logical direction to take the film and the character. Give me a break. And why the hell do ALL the vampires have to dress like they’re rejects from the Matrix series? Is there some sorta Goth dress code to being a hissing, pale blood-sucker? Characters that we’re supposed to fear are given no characterization at all…actually, virtually EVERYONE is given no characterization at all, leading to a ‘ho-hum’ feeling for the viewer as stuff just kind of…happens. Oh, and the ending is essentially a blatent and weak ripoff of Pet Semetary (1989). There’s a lot more crap in this flick that I could mention but that’s really all you need to know…it’s crap. Stick with the first one…which, despite some negatives, is a solid and effective vampire movie. This one…is not.

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