One of the nice things about the Horror genre is that reworking it is remarkably similar to playing around with DNA: Move one or two digits around and suddenly it's a whole new creature. In this case, relocate "Night of The Living Dead" from the rural midwest to northern Alaska, swap the zombies for vampires and - BANG! - you've got a whole new movie in "30 Days of Night."
Based largely on a graphic novel by Steve Niles, the setting is a frostbitten blue-collar Alaskan town of Barrow that's just entered the regions' titular month-long sunless winter period - aka paradise for sun-allergic bloodsuckers... even the vampires are surprised that they haven't thought of this until now. Led by their nominal leader (Danny Huston in a deviously unexpected bit of casting) the pack (flock?) of vamps arrive in the wake their cut-rate Renfield (Ben Foster) of a herald essentially content to un-live out the month gorging themselves on the geographically-captive townsfolk, while the film mainly follows a small and diverse band of survivors trying to endure the seige under the leadership of the local sherriff (Josh Hartnett.)
The tone, story and overall production value suggest nothing so much as an above-average episode of "Tales From The Crypt," expanded to feature length by a handful of character-fleshing moments and several virtuoso widescreen sequences of vampiric massacre. Given the sorry state of the genre as of late, that's more than ample reason to peg the piece as a genuinely worthwhile bit of viewing. That it's not out to rework the entire genre is part of it's strength: It accepts that it's a "genre picture" and treats it as a license to cut to the chase. It's as aware as you are that "she shouldn't go in there!!!" or that the first-act introduction of various lethal-looking work machines automatically means that one or more humans and/or vampires will be getting chewed up by them in act 3.
I will say that I greatly appreciate the way it dismisses almost-entirely with tiresome postmodernism, getting the "vampires don't exist!" "so what are they!?" junk out of the way quickly and keeping the characters all on the same "everybody knows how vampires work" page; and that it's interesting that the film gets more "gore-mileage" out of Hartnett's prefered method of vampire-killing - fireaxe to the head - than vampire attacks themselves.
Bottom line, best vampire movie in awhile. Give it a look.
FINAL RATING: 8/10