“30 Days Of Night: Dark Days” is the follow up to the 2007 zompire flick “30 Days Of Night” based on a graphic novel of the same name by Steve Niles, and Ben Templesmith. In the first film, a sleepy Alaskan town is invaded by a horde of bloodthirsty vampires(zompires) during a 30 day stint of complete darkness.Some sources blame Sarah Palin for the event, but as of yet that is strictly speculation. The source material has possibly given birth to a new breed of vampires. No longer will the ghouls attack with precision to extract your blood, they’ll just tear your ass limb from limb and lick it from their chops. they are quick, mean, dirty, and vicious, and at no point to they sparkle.
Before the film even gets started, it already has a few strikes against it. The setting has been changed from the dark, desolate Alaskan location to sunny Los Angeles. Much of what made the first film what it was was the sense of isolation. It managed to take a wide open space and turn it into a claustrophobic nightmare. Gone is this aspect, having been replaced with a bland urban terrain.
Strike two is that none of the original actors have returned to reprise their roles. The story centers entirely on Stella, and does so sans Melissa George. I’m sure this all boils down to money, as this time around it’s a complete straight to video affair, but seriously, Melissa George couldn’t have taken a day out of her busy schedule? Was she working too hard on her unimportant cameo in three episodes of the TV series “Lie To Me”? Whatever the case, and however interchangeable her presence was in the first film, recasting is never a good thing, and it does hamper the experience a bit.
Strike three, and the most unforgivable flaw in my opinion, is the use of ridiculous looking CGI for most of the FX in the flick. No squibs or blood packs are used for bullet hits, it’s all been added in post production. There are some scenes of practical gore, but it sandwiched in between some of the worst looking CGI blood splatter I’ve seen since Romero’s “Survival of the Dead”. Decapitations are also handled this way, and it’s completely laughable. I realize it’s become cheaper to use digital effects than to mix up a batch of kayo and food coloring, but if you’re already hindered by the lack of “star power” from the first film, and being dumped directly to DVD, why not pay a little extra attention to the effects, since that is usually the saving grace for flicks like this. Films like “30 Days Of Night” are a guilty pleasure for most of the horror fans I know. We’re not looking to the series for deep prophetic life lessons, we want to see some fuckers eviscerated.
Kiele Sanchez, though she looks like the skanky crack-whore version of Amy Smart in “The Butterfly Effect”, does an okay enough job as Stella this time around. After the initial annoyance of her recasting, she’s generally easy to absorb. The story follows her as she travels to Los Angeles, trying to alert people as to what actually happened in her town. Along the way she meets up with a diverse, ragtag group of survivors of other attacks, so naturally they join up to hunt the vicious demons that they narrowly escaped once before. One of the most annoying characters in the film is Amber, played by DIora Baird. Amber is a shit talker, and insists that Stella will get them killed if they get into vampire combat. Of course, at the first sign of vampires, Amber flips her shit, screams and runs costing a team member their life. In fact, the entire cast of characters portray themselves as some kind of hardened veterans, but when the shit hits the fan, most of them are left with their cocks in their hands.
As a side story, the gang are being pursued by a dirty FBI agent, whom is apparently working with the vampires in order to be turned. Troy Ruptash plays Agent Norris, whom is apparently dying of lung cancer, and trying to be turned vampire before it happens. There actually isn’t much pursuit, and his character isn’t really pivotal to the rest of the story. Much like the rest of the characters, he’s never developed, and is ultimately hanging around as a bit of cannon fodder.
The ultimate goal is to find and kill Lilith, played by Mia Kirshner. Lilith is apparently the horde’s “queen” as it’s stated numerous times that the horde doesn’t make a move without her say so. The odd thing is, if she’s so important, why is it she’s running around out in the open when the “battle” is taking place. One would think you would protect your queen. Maddeningly, Lilith is never developed either. As for what her purpose is, other than showing off her naked, blood covered ass, I’m not sure. The lack of character development makes this film play out like a video game, and not a good one.
Even as guilty of a pleasure as the first film was, “Dark Days” can’t even find it’s way to that status. It’s not all bad, there’s a tad bit of fun to be had. It’s good to see vampires being vicious and dirty once more, I just wish it was handled with a bit more finesse. Some script tweaks, a few returning actors, and some practical gore FX could have turned this into a must see. As it stands though, it falters in at a flick you may want to see if there are nu re-runs of House MD currently on one of the 10 different channels that run daily marathons. Fans of the first film will be annoyed, but likely be able to stomach their way through to the end. Those that hated the first, will no doubt hate the sequel even more. “30 Days” was a solid premise, and appeared to be a franchise with promise, but in the end, they went the cop-out route, and just vomited some shit on paper to try and cash in on the success of the original.