I remember watching “30 Days of Night” when I was younger and thinking that it was pretty decent for what it was. Had a couple bigger name actors, namely Josh Hartnett. So when I saw that we were going to be reading the graphic novel for class, I was super excited. And I’d have to say I wasn’t let down. It was a true work of art.
The story opens and we already know that tension is going to be high. Every single cell phone has been stolen and burned. Shortly thereafter, the sun sets for the last time and all hell breaks loose pretty quick. That’s perhaps one of the best aspects of this graphic novel. The pacing was quick and things were consistently happening, keeping me intrigued throughout the entirety of the story. Perhaps that is an element of the graphic novel, the ability to move a story quickly, but it really worked for me, even if it did lack some character development (more on that a little later).
The vampires were done much better than Matheson did in “I Am Legend”. These vampires are powerful and pose a very real threat to the survivors of Barrow. Even though the people try to fight them, they’re unable to win even the smallest confrontation. These vampires take shotgun blasts to the face and it doesn’t even slow them down. Another advantage that comes from using the medium of the graphic novel is that we get to see the artists rendition of these vampires.
They are terrifying, with mouths full of razor sharp teeth and pale grey skin. And the largest amount of color in the entire story is the blood that they spill as they go along. This is what a vampire is supposed to be like in its most monstrous form. Even the vampire who was a little girl was pretty creepy looking. I was also pleased that the movie went with a similar style for the vampires.
But in addition to being some sort of hideous monster, we are given some back story for them. Evidently they had been hiding for centuries so that their existence could be forgotten. It was a neat touch that added a certain level of believability to these monsters. They could exist and could be that creepy neighbor of yours with the night shift job.
I feel like this story also worked really well plot wise. However, there were some trip ups that I had issues with. First was characterization. I really didn’t get a feel for any of the characters. That may have been on purpose, showing that they could really just be anyone. On the other hand, it didn’t give me an emotional connection. I just accepted it when someone died or someone got infected and had to be killed. It was just part of the story.
My second issue was the ending of the story. The survivors of Barrow are hiding from the vampires and have evidently been hiding for the majority of the thirty days (although we don’t have any time reference and are thus left to wonder how they fed themselves for that long). In order to survive and defeat the vampires, Eben, the main character, injects himself with vampire blood to become a vampire and fight back, since the only way to kill a vampire is for another vampire to do it. Okay, I could believe that. However, what I can’t believe is that Eben, who is just a noob vampire, is able to defeat and kill Vicente, this ancient vampire who is leading the others. That stretches it a bit far. Vicente would know how to handle himself and would have hundreds of years of practice. Eben wouldn’t stand a chance. It would be like Pee Wee Herman taking steroids and then deciding to fight Mike Tyson. Even with the help, Pee Wee would still get the crap beat out of him. This ending for “30 Days of Night” just didn’t work for me.
However, I did like the premise and the way they used a natural phenomena in Alaska to play up the vampire story. It was pretty cool and I was interested to read more in the series.
8 thoughts on “30 Days of Night (and Death)”
I’ve been complaining about the characterization a lot this week, but I like your possible explanation that it’s purposeful in order to imply that the vampires could be anyone. The problem I have, however, is that it takes the same tactic with the humans, so is our takeaway again supposed to be the ability to infer that even the victims could be anyone?
I think that is what I got from it. Some characters for horror are the types where you say, oh that could never be me, but I thought maybe this could be me in this sense. It may have been the fact that I have some connections to Alaska though.
I have such mixed feelings about the pacing. On one hand, it was tight and kept me hooked. But on the other, it went too fast an it seemed like maybe a day had gone by instead of thirty. The sun coming up at the end of the story pulled me out of the story because I was thinking, “Didn’t it set a few hours ago?”
I totally agree. The concept of a whole month of feeding was a great premise. But it did feel like this could easily have happened in one night as well
That’s a good point about the sun setting and rising – it does add to the feeling that just one day passed. It really did not seem like a full month, certainly. I wasn’t even sure at what point in the month they were in when Eben turned – the end almost implies that the sunrise was only a few hours away.
I’m glad I’m not the only one bothered by the vamp noob winning the day (or night) climax. It was this technicality more than the lack of characterization that really pulled me out of the story.
Your mentioning of the cell phone makes me think about this more critically. Every single cell phone was stollen, and no one saw anything. And no one had extra cell phones stashed in a junk drawer. How does this happen? The vampires aren’t exactly inconspicuous. Neither was the crazy meat guy.
Kris, I agree with you as far as Eben not having enough strength to defeat Vincente. Some stories stretch the vampire myth to say that new vampires are actually stronger and more dangerous than older ones. I can accept the dangerous part, especially if they are left to their own devices and have no guidance or mentorship to learn how to control their urges, which is key to survival and also, remaining undetected. But, I’m more comfortable with the idea that the older a vampire becomes, as long as he remains well-fed, the stronger he will become. Not just through physical strength, but also through cunning and years of experience.