2007 was a really solid year for me: I turned 16 over the summer and, after overcoming crippling anxiety about moving to a new town, finally started to come out of my shell in school; I made friends that I still associate with to this day; but most importantly, I watched a ton of movies. Priorities, right?
Though it’s been ten years, I vividly remember seeing the trailer for David Slade’s 30 Days of Night for the first time. The accompanying music, cold aesthetic, and violent appeal of the vampires were essential in cutting a horrifyingly atmospheric preview, and together, these elements had sent a chill down my spine. Although a few students my age were starting their first jobs, my focus remained on school. Still, I knew from my first viewing of the trailer that I’d be finding a way to earn the money so that I could watch the film when it hit theaters on the 19th of October.
And that’s what I did.
I come from a family that’s relatively large in size. At the time, I lived with my father, two brothers, and my young sister, IN ADDITION TO my dad’s fiancee, her two young daughters, and their baby son- my third brother. Keeping the place decent-looking was no easy task, but I offered my deep cleaning services in exchange for movie ticket cash. I cleaned the hell out of that house, so a lackluster film would have proven disappointing.
Fortunately, I loved it and it remains one of my all-time favorite vampire movies.
Based on the comic book miniseries of the same name, David Slade’s 30 Days of Night tallied $75 million at the box office on a budget of $30 million. Though it received mixed reviews, it continues to be admired by horror fans for its setting and especially brutal villains.
Taking place in a small Alaskan town during thirty days of polar night, the film follows the sheriff, Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett), his estranged wife, Stella (Melissa George), and members of their community as they come under attack from a vicious coven of vampires. The initial attack on the town is an incredibly graphic scene that leaves the snowy ground covered in blood and loose limbs, and the quiet moments of attempted survival that follow are made compelling by a strong connection to the lead characters- especially Sheriff Oleson.
Eben Oleson was a good dude. This is evidenced not only by his self-sacrificial (and heartbreaking) death at the end of the film, but in his actions and demeanor throughout 30 Days of Night. Carrying his heart on his sleeve, Oleson put love before everything in his life: The love for Stella, the love for his family, and the love for his community. These actions, which Josh Hartnett immensely showcases as the character, allow Eben to hook the audience. We rooted for everyone to survive because watching Eben lose someone he loves would be too painful to bear. Our hearts aren’t built for such trauma.
The danger they’re in, however, is always prevalent. These are arguably the scariest vampires we’ve ever seen. They kill without mercy or remorse, and they taunt humans, love, and faith while doing so. Sadistic and hungry are a match made in Hell, and watching these fuckers make freaky howling noises before ripping at a throat is the devil’s nightmare fuel.
While much of 30 Days of Night remains intense and almost claustrophobic in execution, the ending of the film absolutely honors the comic book roots of the story, and it’s as badass as badass gets. To save Stella and the remaining townspeople from certain death, Eben injects himself with infected blood and becomes a vampire. Though he is overcome with the sudden urge to feast on everyone around him, in true Eben fashion, he channels that intensity to fight Marlow, the lead vampire. It’s incredible.
This October 19th, take the time to revisit this fantastic tale of love and survival. You’ll be treated to great characters, lots of blood, and of course, vampires. What more could you want?
Happy 10th, 30 Days of Night!