These are indeed 'Dark Days.'
When the film adaptation for 30 Days of Night first came out back in 2007 I had just really fallen into my full blown Steve Niles phase, devouring every comic and graphic novel that IDW had so thoughtfully republished in triplicate. The combination of Niles enthusiasm for the genre and Ben Templesmith's moody artwork created the perfect storm of gritty, noir storytelling that previous horror comics (post-E.C.) just couldn't seem to nail down.
From there I followed Templesmith to his equally (if not moreso) enjoyable Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse series (It Only Hurts When I Pee, Calimari Rising) and managed to find a few new books that I liked from Niles (Aleister Arcane), but it was really that first book that reignited a spark of interest in comics for me. Then of course came the movie and I eagerly attended the midnight screening, book tightly clutched in one hand popcorn in the other, only to leave with a lingering sense of dissatisfaction.
Watching this film alone is like pulling teeth... literally!
It's not really clear at the time what element(s) were missing, but I knew there was something different. Having had the opportunity to re-watch the film several times since then I think that its biggest flaw is pacing. When compared to the comic, the pacing in the movie is so drawn out that it loses much of the atmospheric tension. And really that's what Niles' 30 Days of Night was all about: formulating tension.
Its sequel however, Dark Days, lent itself more towards the realm of noir and ultra-violence with Stella reprising her role as heroine from the first book and a new team of vampire hunters already under her wing. The story moved along at a great pace, the characters were believable and each of their motivations were brilliantly complex. So despite the first film being a letdown, I got really excited to when a sequel was announced. Unfortunately, the new film seems doomed to repeat the mistakes of its predecessor as literally all of the elements from the book have either been changed or removed completely.
"Punk" Stella vs "Buffy" Stella
In the book the story begins with a short, pink-haired Stella already leading a band of four badass vampire hunters whereas in the movie she is a frightened and broken blonde-headed Buffy clone who is recruited by three likewise unstable individuals. In the book, Dane is Stella's informant, lover and plays a key role in helping her defeat Lilith. In the film, though, Dane plays a much less pivotal role much like a den mother. It's as if any possibly interesting plotline that could have been carried over was instead replaced with your run-of-the-mill Buffy/Blade/Van Helsing "kill'em til they're dead" fare.
Another gripe? What the hell did they use for blood because in EVERY scene it looks more like muddy water than good 'ole fructose. In the end I had the same feeling after watching Dark Days as I did 30 Days of Night... disappointment and confusion. Even with Niles lending his effort to the screenplay the film just doesn't deliver on any of the potential found in its source material. It simply comes off as a film made to cash in on the notoriety of the book and, while it isn't the worst in terms of art direction or acting, seems to be a pointless exercise in mediocrity. But, hey... at least it's not another Twilight, right?
This article is part of the Countdown to Halloween blogathon, a month-long blogging marathon dedicated to honoring the Halloween season. For more information and a full list of participating sites, please visit www.countdowntohalloween.com.