Starring: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George
Studio: Ghost House/Columbia Pictures 19618
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 color, 1080p HD
Audio: English & French Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Spanish, Portuguese & Thai DD 5.1, DD 2.0 (Extras: DD 2.0)
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Thai, Chinese, Classic Portuguese
Extras: 8 Featurettes in HD: Pre-production; Building Barrow; The Look; Blood, Guts & The Nasty; Stunts; The Vampire; Night Shoots; Casting
Length: 113 minutes
From this movie you will find that Northern Alaska is No Country for Old Men, and you can be sure that There Will Be Blood. Also that when the vampires realize that the sun doesn’t come up for 30 days, They Will Come. I never watch zombie movies but I wouldn’t turn down a good vampire flick, and this is a pretty good one, though plenty bloody. In fact, one of the featurettes shows the crew checking out dozens of different fake blood mixtures to find the ones they would use in the film. The vampires needed purple blood, which added to the complexities. Horror movie maven Sam Raimi is one of the producers.
Someone associated with the production had learned that Barrow, Alaska – the farthest north town in the U.S. – had 30 straight days of no sun annually and imposed prohibition during that time so things didn’t get out of hand. Well, things do get very much out of hand in this story cleverly dreamt up by the writers based on that interesting fact. So did the cast and crew journey to Barrow to freeze their derrieres off and shoot the film there? Un, huh…they went to a movie lot in New Zealand and built their own very convincing Barrow with fake snow.
The vampires pick off most of the townspeople one by one, but a small group led by the Sheriff and his wife survive for the month thru many horrific incidents, part of the time hiding in an attic. These are your old-fashioned vampires who are done in by light; not Copolla’s Dracula who could walk the streets in daylight dressed up in a good Edwardian suit. Attempts by the group of humans to keep the suckers at bay using growing lights powered by a generator (the vampires had begun their visit by destroying the local power pant) worked briefly. So I had trouble understanding why the vampires seemed unaffected by the bright light from the blaze they started to burn down the town to roust out the remaining humans. Must have something to do with color temperature…Needs 5000K to affect them.
However, it’s a good scare, the acting is quite professional, transfer of the film to Blu-ray preserves the many details going on in very dark areas, and the surround track is rife with immersive rumbles, roars and screams to keep you on the edge of your seat. (One of the HD extras shows the 35mm film vs. HD video tests that were done before shooting began. All they said was that although the video was more forgiving of very low light levels and cheaper, they decided to go with 35mm film. I would be interested to hear why.)
– John Sunier