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02.27.08

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Phaedra

30 Days of Night

One disc; Sony Pictures; $28.95

By Michael S. Gant


A superior vampire pic that didn't get the attention it deserved. The premise—when the sun goes away for a month in winter in a town in the far north of Alaska, vampires come out to feast—allows for masterful running mayhem filmed in darkness through swirls of snow highlighted by burning cars. Appropriately wooden, Josh Hartnett commands the freaked-out residents as they seek to survive till the next sunrise. Danny Huston (son of director John) leads the toothy ones, growling in some vaguely Eastern European faux language, helpfully translated in subtitles. He has a philosophical side—when a victim calls out to God, he reflects, "God? No God" before performing a tracheotomy without anesthesia. His blood-smeared minions leap nimbly into the fray, but when the time comes to attack the outnumbered hero, they obey the time-honored rule: "One at a time, guys." The tall skinny one looks a lot like Marilyn Manson. Best of all is Ben Foster as the "infected stranger." Foster, who made a big impression as Russell Crowe's prissy cats-paw in 3:10 to Yuma, insinuates his lines with a snaky hiss. The action does not let up; an ultraviolet marijuana grow-light works better than a cross; and the little girl vampire is a total hoot. Extra credit for a great aerial shot of marauding vamps at work. The extras include a behind-the-scenes documentary about the filming in New Zealand. For once, it looks like everybody was actually having a good time on the set, unlike so many of these featurettes, in which the actors read too much meaning into a genre film. Additional extras show how the look of the graphic novel was transferred to film.


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