’30 Days of Night: Dark Days’ – A Lifeless Sequel That Lacks Bite
I’m at a loss of words. I just watched 30 Days of Night: Dark Days. It’s the sequel to the original film starring Josh Hartnett and Melissa George. Hartnett was killed in the first film and George is replaced by Kiele Sanchez. The film is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith. Niles is also the co-writer of the screenplay just as he was in the original. I’m at a loss for words because 30DoN: DD is as disappointing a sequel as you are ever likely to see. There’s a very good reason it was placed in the discount bin at Wal-Mart. This film is one of the most anemic vampire films I have ever seen.
In a plot that has been used a million times before, Stella Oleson meets a group of people who ask her to join them in ridding the world of vampires. In typical clichéd fashion she reluctantly accepts. I kept waiting for her to say something like “I work alone” or “I got my own agenda.” The group tells her they are going after the queen vampire, Lilith. The film is talk, talk, talk, talk, some action, talk, talk, talk, talk, a little more action, the end. I’ve seen better acting on WWE Monday Night Raw and better direction at a high school play.
Following up the tense, gritty original, 2010’s direct-to-video sequel ’30 Days of Night: Dark Days’ fails to live up to its predecessor, delivering a derivative vampire tale devoid of suspense or originality. Its rote execution renders this chapter more of an afterthought than a worthy continuation.
With the Alaskan vampire massacre behind her, Stella joins a band of vampire hunters seeking to eradicate the bloodsuckers worldwide. Their quest leads them to track down Lilith, the ancient vampire queen. But their wooden stakes prove ineffective against the powerful Lilith and her minions.
Whereas the isolated Alaskan setting prickled with dread, the LA locale of ‘Dark Days’ lacks atmosphere. Sudden vampire appearances rely on cheap jump scares rather than sustained tension. While the original built realism through raw, cinéma vérité aesthetics, the sequel has a flat, artificial look.
And the defiant Stella, so compelling in the first film, is reduced to a generic tough girl charging into obvious traps. Backstory and character development get discarded in favor of repetitive vampire battles that fail to disturb or excite.
Perhaps sensing its own pointlessness, ’30 Days of Night: Dark Days’ opts for derivative action over emotional impact. It coasts on lingering affection for the original rather than earning our investment. A textbook case of sequel fatigue, it lacks the brains, heart and teeth that made its predecessor bite.
Am I being unfair to the film? I don’t think so. I paid for this film and I have a right to express my disappointment. The DVD box has a blurb that says ‘Dark Days makes Twilight look like nursery school.’ If that’s the case then the first film makes Dark Days look like Twilight.
During publicity for the first film, Melissa George had expressed interest in reprising her role as Stella Olemaun in the sequel. According to producers, scheduling conflicts forced George to bow out and the role was recast with Kiele Sanchez.
Lilith bathing in blood is a clear reference to Elizabeth Bathory. Elizabeth Bathory was a sixteenth to seventeenth century countess, who supposedly killed numerous young women and bathed in their blood, in an attempt to retain her youth. She, along with Vlad III the Impaler, is one of the most common historical figures to be re-imagined as a vampire in popular culture.