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This Josh Hartnett Movie Proves How Terrifying Vampires Should Be

This Josh Hartnett Movie Proves How Terrifying Vampires Should Be


  • Josh Hartnett starred in
    30 Days of Night
    , a violent and gritty vampire horror film in a desolate Alaskan setting.
  • The setting creates a claustrophobic atmosphere, with a memorable villain and excellent execution of scare tactics.
  • Unlike romanticized vampire movies,
    30 Days of Night
    focuses on horror, making it a standout in the late 2000s vampire film landscape.

In 2007, Josh Hartnett‘s career began to somewhat fizzle out. The previous year, The Black Dahlia and Lucky Number Slevin received lukewarm reviews, and box office results weren’t too high. Who was once a teenage heartthrob was now beginning to appear in adult roles, but his selection didn’t pay off. It would be years before his career resurgence, at least from a mainstream film perspective, like the one he had in 2001 (Pearl Harbor, O, and Black Hawk Down).

However, that year, Hartnett starred in a horror action film called 30 Days of Night that had a solid reception at the box office. Not only that but considering it wasn’t part of a franchise and was released just one year before the Twilight vampire craze, audiences didn’t know how good they had it at the time.

One of the most underrated vampire films of its era, 30 Days of Night, was extremely violent and had enough grit to be more artistic than what its plot demanded. The best thing about it? It played well on the horror scale, with enough gore to satisfy gore-hounds, but more importantly, it was a movie where the vampires were scary, eternally hungry, and relentless. This is Hartnett’s last horror film, and it’s one of the best he ever made. Let’s dig (our fangs) in.

30 Days of Night Is an Alaskan Nightmare

30 Days of Night

30 Days of Night follows the community of Barrow, Alaska, as they prepare for an important annual event. The month-long polar night during the winter is a huge turning point for the people of Barrow, and most would like to leave for 30 days. Stella (the great Melissa George), Sheriff Oleson’s (Hartnett) wife, is among those. Unfortunately, she misses the plane and is forced to stay in Barrow for 30 days in the absolute dark.


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At the same time, a ship arrives. One that no one recognizes. Someone gets off the boat and immediately draws Oleson’s attention. The stranger breaks off communication and leaves Barrow in darkness and with no power. But he’s the introduction to a far bigger problem: There’s a gang of vampires, and they’re hungry. Only sunlight can hurt them, and guess what happens in a town where the sun doesn’t rise for weeks? Mayhem, destruction, and lots of snowy blood.

Is 30 Days of Night Really Scary?

The setting in 30 Days of Night is key to creating a gloomy and claustrophobic environment. It’s a wide-open field where the darkness covers everything, and you can’t simply run away in the frigid Alaskan climate. In that regard, the movie makes you feel unwelcome and uncomfortable from the very beginning. Nevertheless, the vampires don’t take long to arrive. And they’re not as erratic as the trailers painted them out to be. Sure, they lack an agenda other than to feed, but they aren’t just meat in a grinder. The key to their collective presence is a leader, and a very good one.

Marlow, played by Danny Huston, is the leader of the gang. However, he isn’t the sentient vampire who constantly reveals a master plan through exposition dumps. Instead, Marlow becomes a signature in the pantheon of scary vampires by being exceptionally expressive. He proves the point of the necessary balance between a good script and a performer’s ability.

The film does have its monster moments, with kills that will make you squirm and situations that’ll be discomforting even for those used to gore. This time, the scare factor comes from an excellent execution of the concept, a pretty memorable villain, and the relentless traits of a film that doesn’t need to be anything other than a confining horror film that doesn’t let you take a break.

How Does 30 Days of Night Compare to Other Vampire Films?

The underrated 30 Days of Night may not be one of the best vampire films ever made, but it’s certainly worth a watch if you’re looking for a film that leans into the horror aspect of vampires instead of romanticizing them. Its gore element put it on a secondary plane in the late 2000s when more prominent vampire films took all the attention that others deserved. Not only that, but 30 Days of Night is much simpler than other vampire movies that tend to break the rules of the horror subgenre about sexy bloodsuckers being constantly hungry and horny. This one is about an unfortunate place that’s going through a troubling period when monsters realize they could have a feast. And most of all, they’re all led by a terrifying vampire.


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The trailers didn’t do an excellent job of hiding things. But the movie is a rewatchable horror film from the 2000s based on the graphic novel of the same name. It’s a horror feature in a sea of remakes and reboots and one of the most exciting vampire films of the 21st century. Also, Josh Hartnett does an excellent job in the lead, proving that he never should have drifted away from the spotlight.

30 Days of Night is an enjoyable feature that may have been judged too harshly when it was initially released. The cinematography by Jo Willems (whose work in His House was beautiful) is cleverly planned: the famous aerial shot of the film is fantastic, and the color tone is very distressing. The score by Brian Reitzell is haunting. And the direction by David Slade proves that horror is where he should stay. 30 Days of Night is available to rent on Prime Video.

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