DVD REVIEW: “30 DAYS OF NIGHT: DARK DAYS”
30 DAYS OF NIGHT: DARK DAYS
Starring Kiele Sanchez, Rhys Coiro and Mia Kirshner
Directed by Ben Ketai
Written by Steve Niles & Ben Ketai
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
The 2007 film of Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s comic series 30 Days of Night was not so untouchable that the thought of a sequel is blasphemy. Director David Slade did a great job of making a full-blooded version of the hallowed comic, investing it with an unexpected degree of brutality. But Josh Hartnett’s miscasting – he was too young and pretty to play Niles’ hardened sheriff Eben – made it hard to take seriously.
Director Ben Ketai, who also helmed the 30 Days of Night online series Blood Trails, has no such difficulty as neither Hartnett nor Melissa George, who played Eben’s estranged wife Stella in the original, chose to renew their roles. Fortunately Niles has returned and invests his screenplay (co-written with Ketai) with enough intelligence and seriousness to make Dark Days (also based on Niles & Templesmith’s comic sequel) better than expected, although not as bloodily gripping as its predecessor.
Kiele Sanchez (A Perfect Getaway) fits right into George’s shoes. Her Stella is a haunted, empty shell whose attempts to expose the vampires who damned her husband and destroyed her Alaskan home of Barrow have, understandably, met with laughter and disdain. They’ve also been closely watched by Lilith (Mia Kirshner, The L Word), the vampire queen, who uses her network of undead minions and an ill human detective (Troy Ruptash) to stop Stella before she exposes them to the world – not that the world wants to know.
Dark Days does not follow Niles & Templesmith’s comic exactly –Lilith’s personal grudge against Stella remains unexplained, the character of the “good” vampire Dane is considerably changed – but Niles’ participation means that there’s a sincerity here which makes this a straight-to-video sequel with at least a measure of integrity. We also get committed performances, especially from Sanchez.
That said, the characters we do get, except for Stella, see little development beyond potted speeches speaking to their motives (usually amounting to “vampires killed the ones I loved, too”) and the vampires, perhaps because we’re familiar with them from the original, are less scary, although Niles and Ketai do add to the mythology with a few interesting ideas and the gore is unremitting. They also maintain the comic’s bleak ending, although we suppose a second sequel is not out of the question.
Dark Days is available today (Oct. 5) on DVD and Blu-ray.