Friday, 29 July 2011
The mythical lore of das vampyr has been incarnated on celluloid countless times dating back to Shreck's portrayal of the Nosferatu, regarded to be the definitive interpretation of the living dead; through to Bigelow's twist of a vampire western, Near Dark, and Coppola's Dracula, spattered with blood and the obligatory camp, although the majority of these renditions fail to convey a less than romanticised view of the stark brutality of a vampire's carnal existence - the breed of bloodsucker to be found in 30 Days of Night shares little with its predecessor, albeit the immaculate dress sense, and is as far removed from humanity as possible.
The clan of vampires, led by a passive, but imposing Danny Huston, communicates among its number lingually through screeching utterances in vampire tongue, and it is one such instance of the excellent use of sound to invoke fear, an aspect which is sometimes as visceral as the visual brutality - the sequence in which the town is rapidly decimated is one that lingers indelibly on the mind, and the combination of the three primary colours, in this case sanguineous red, black and white impress on the eyes a bleakness and desolation that accentuates the nightmarish situation. What really gives the film bite, is the extremity of the violence; one sequence involving the vampire's ploy to draw out the survivors culminates in the torment of and eventual murder of the woman being used as bait, that is deeply unsettling to watch, and possibly requisite of another visit to the censors.
Disturbing and perturbing, 30 Days of Night is one of the most effective horror films of recent times, and gnaws at the jugular for the entirety of its screen time.
An outstanding film with a tremendous performance from Natalie Portman as Nina, the obsessive ballerina torturing herself in pursuit of the ultimate performance of both the White Swan, and the Black Swan. Aronofsky's unique auteur style transposes amazingly from The Wrestler - where previously he captured the grit and degradation of amateur wrestling the ballet stage is a shadowy mirror world, the Freudian subtext hanging deliciously and maliciously in the air. Certain sequences might appear to tip the subtle fantasy into generic horror but they're constructed with an indeed balletic panache and nightmarish-ness that it's as exciting as it is psychologically sinister. Vincent Cassel is also very good as the demanding director, and Mila Kunis suitably lascivious and alluring as Lily, Nina's nemesis and feared usurper. Portman deserves all the plaudits she gets as this is by far her best ever performance; the dedication she put into the role is brutally visible, her performance a mirror of Nina's gruelling pursuit of perfection.