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TIME: 92 Minutes
- ‘The Gritty Realism of Dark Days’
Director: Ben Ketai
Based on the Comic By: Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith
Written By: Ben Ketai & Steve Niles
Starring: Kiele Sanchez. Rhys Coiro. Harold Perrineau. Mia Kirschner. Diora Baird. Ben Cotton. Troy Ruptash.
How’s his morning going?
30 Days of Night (CHUD review) was not a good movie. It was a hit, but it was not a very good movie at all. One which seemingly coasted on its bloody-mouthed caterwauling vampires, its high concept premise, and the fact it eschewed romanticism for brutality. It wasn’t enough, especially in a market saturated with vampire films.
Then again, it was based on a high concept style over substance comic book so why should anyone be surprised…
Is she having a good assternoon?
Dark Days takes place shortly after the events of the first film where Stella Oleson (Melissa George in the original and A Perfect Getaway‘s Kiele Sanchez here) bakes her infected husband in the sunlight semi-romantically. She’s written a book about the events in Barrow, Alaska and goes around North America trying to inform the citizens about the vampires living among us, guided by a mysterious dude named Dane. If the opening credits are any indication, Dane communicates via typewriter exclusively and someone really likes Seven’s opening titles. Where 30 Days of Night was a horror flick with a climax that involved a lot of action this is a leaner and more traditional vampire action film. Somewhere between Blade and Daybreakers, except nowhere near as interesting, fun, or good. So, I guess it’s more like Underworld then.
How’s his evening treating him?
Stella has been summoned to Los Angeles to spread the word, because Los Angeles is a lot more convenient a place to film. Actually, it’s where the comic book is based. She’s speaking to groups of people in an attempt to out hiding vampires, and it’s actually a pretty good start to the film. Stella is a woman driven by hate and loss and it’s nice to see such a methodical and uncompromising female lead in a film like this. Unfortunately, she soon comes into contact with a crew of sad sack vampire hunters (including Entourage‘s Billy Walsh, Rhys Coiro) and goes from setting to setting following the Vampire Yawn… I mean Queen played by Mia Kirshner.
You think it’s time for Mia to find new representation? Her entire performance is built around curious looks, shitty vampirespeak (really, do they need to have their own secret language?), and her little pointed chompers. We do get to see her ass, though.
You know what, I don’t even need that.
Is his night coming along according to plan?
Part of the problem is how utterly familiar all of this is. You have a “good” vampire fighting against the toothy oppressors. You have UV weapons. You have numbing amounts of people firing automatic weapons into screeching pale redshirts. You have plentiful CGI blood. You have gritty and warm photography of the human characters counterbalanced by abundantly blue and cold photography of the vampire characters.
You have everything you’ve seen over and over again. I’d have gotten behind this project more if it took its high concept and went even deeper into it. The frozen tundra of Alaska and vampires has some great possibilities. And it still does, apparently. And worst, you have the cheapest ending of all. It’s so stupid that any little amounts of goodwill the film earned along the way was scuttled. It made me hate the leading character’s stupidity and wish hardship on everyone involved in the comic, movie, and actual pressing of the DVD.
30 Days of Night needs to go away forever. It had one thing working for it: a really interesting premise. Once it abandoned that to become Vampire Hunting Film #642 it lost even that.
There are some good kills and it’s not an affront to good filmmaking. It’s just benign and totally irrelevant in a marketplace loaded with better product. Here’s hoping this puts a nail in the coffin once and for all.
There’s a feature length commentary track from the director/co-writer and his producer and the bad news is that they talk about this movie for ninety minutes. If they’d only discussed something like good Chinese restaurants to look for in the city or a nice seamstress to fix my ripped pants all would be well, but instead they talk about this movie.
Look, they tried to make it good and they’re passionate about what they do. They got to make a movie. That’s special.
But the movie’s not good. The franchise isn’t good, and there’s only so much we can hear about how great this project is when we as humans know the truth. There’s also a short featurette (a female feature) on the film’s gritty look.
This is the gritty vampire flick. FINALLY.
out of 10