30 Days of Night: Josh Hartnett

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Review in a Hurry:  A nifty premise (sun-fearing vampires besiege an isolated Alaskan town during a month of darkness) spoiled by slipshod storytelling and a grim, charmless cast.

The Bigger Picture:  When the winter winds blow in a crowd of bloodsucking freaks, a small-town sheriff (Josh Hartnett)—used to dealing with nothing more than stir-crazy townies with seasonal affective disorder—suddenly finds himself hip-deep in bodies, cut off from the outside world and struggling to survive until sunrise.

Which is, unfortunately, 30 days hence. That's a pretty long night, especially considering how you might feel after a mere two hours with this movie: harried, disappointed, in bad need of a shower and wanting to forget the whole thing.

Now, it's not that the vampires of 30 Days of Night aren't scary. It's that they're so scary—they strike fast and their presence essentially spells certain death—as to remove all suspense from the proceedings. Doesn't help that director David Slade (Hard Candy) loses the thread early on, missing the potential for menace in the early foreshadowing, and submitting a garbled jumble of scenes that do little to make the undead invasion of Barrow interesting.

The precious few survivors (or "leftovers") from the initial bloodbath don't make for much tension either. Character development and subplots are minimalized, and, mostly, the hapless humans quibble over their limited options until one person gets eaten and the rest temporarily come to their senses. Eventually, the film just runs out of fresh bodies—sadly, about 29 days after it's run out of fresh ideas.

The 180—a Second Opinion:  The vampires of 30 Days of Night are indeed a formidable lot, hyperactive psychopaths with mouthfuls of sharklike teeth, squawking and shrieking in their own guttural language. They chow down on the townsfolk, leaving blood-misted snowdrifts in their wake. If only someone like Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) had stepped up to oversee the carnage.

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