30 Days of Night: Dark Days Ben Ketai

30 Days of Night: Dark Days Ben Ketai
Relegated to the direct-to-video market, this follow-up to the above-average 30 Days of Night is similarly decent for what it is. Based on the graphic novel by Steve Niles, who co-wrote the script with director Ben Ketai, the story of Dark Days picks up about a year after the bloody feast/massacre in Barrow, Alaska. Survivor Stella Olemaun (Kiele Sanchez, of A Perfect Getaway, replacing Melissa George) has buried her husband and moved on to speaking tours where her exposition on the reality of vampires is laughed off until she flips on a bank of UV lights, frying some bloodsucking audience members who'd been stalking her. Her renegade vamp-roast attracts the attention of a band of vampire hunters who ask her to join them in a mission to kill Lilith, the vampire queen. Ketai populates the picture with a likeable cast of television veterans: Harold Perrineau (Oz), Rhys Coiro (Entourage) and Diora Baird are the vamp team, while Mia Kirshner (24) is Lililth. Unfortunately, some of the performances feel a bit emotionally distant and the wits of the characters wither as the story progresses. Stella displays a knack for quick thinking for a good chunk of the film, but descends into fairly irrational gut-decisions as the action ramps up. For a rushed, low-budget film (check out the director's feature commentary with producer J.R. Young for some interesting chatter on the mechanics of the movie's making), Dark Days looks surprisingly good. Something about the protruding vampire teeth design bothers me, but it's a suitably primal take directly from the source material. A couple great kills, which are well documented in a solid batch of behind-the-scenes footage, a shudder-worthy fang extraction and an ending darker than Satan's obsidian anal beads elevate the film above much of its kin without making it a necessity, unless you've exhausted the healthy supply of superior non-sparkling vampire films that have come out recently. (Sony)