– Every hero needs a weakness in order to avoid coming off as unbelievably perfect. Sheriff Oleson (Josh Harnett) is asthmatic. This increases tension in later fight scenes because he is at a physical disadvantage.
– The main character also has an emotional weakness – his estranged girlfriend is along for the ride. This girl is not some vague distant “damsel in distress” but a constant influence on the driving action of the film. The relationship adds ambiance, but does not detract from the immediacy of the dangers the ensemble of good guys is up against (that is, a pack of ravenous bloodthirsty vampire scum).
– Speaking of vampires, these are not your average Stoker vamps either – they have enough fresh elements to make them intriguing (their own language, for example) but they don’t wander into the realm of the ridiculous (does a vampire really have nothing better to do than hang out in a high school?). The vampires worked, and that’s because they hit a pleasing note between originality and implausibility.
– Use your setting as inspiration to set up conflict. People (especially people in crisis) tend to be hindered by their environment. 30 Days of Night takes this to an extreme by stranding a town full of Alaskans in the middle of nowhere and having vampires descend down on them. Nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide.
Verdict: Due to the artfully gruesome fight scenes and the unique setting, not the mention the fresh take on vampires, I give 30 Days of Night 4 out of 5 salt shakes. Be sure to check out the graphic novel that the movie is based on as well: http://www.amazon.com/30-Days-Night-Steve-Niles/dp/0971977550