Monday, October 19, 2009

30 Days of Night - A vampire "what if..."

So it's getting near to Halloween and all the premium channels are playing horror movies... a lot of horror movies. One that I've seen before and found interesting is a film called 30 Days of Night. This film stars Josh Hartnett and is based on the graphic novel (that's a big comic book for those of you unfamiliar with the comic book scene) of the same name. The basic premise of the film is a "what if" story. What if vampires decided to invade a town above the arctic circle during its month-long winter night? Well, they certainly wouldn't have to contend with that bothersome lethal daylight thing, now would they?

Actually, 30DoN isn't a bad film, at least as far as vampire/horror films go. To be sure, there are loads of horror films produced today that are little more than slasher porn. How can we kill the most people in the most gruesome ways we can think of and get away with it? Don't believe me? Take a look at Hostel, Turistas, Hostel 2, the remakes of Friday the 13th and Halloween as examples. Just make sure that you keep a bucket handy in case you have a weak stomach. Anyway, back to the film at hand. We're certainly familiar with vampire movies, how to kill vampires, what vampires are capable of and how they operate. There's nothing new in this film as far as that goes. What is different is the claustrophobic feel of this film. The humans that over winter in this small town are cut off from civilization very early on and are forced to try to hide and survive as the troop of vampires holds sway over the town.

Before I say anything about the theological ideas in this film I want to make sure that I mention that this movie is rated R and there are many scenes of bloodshed, violence and peril. It's definitely not a film for children.

Anyway, two theological points jumped off the screen for me in 30DoN. The first was a scene where a human woman was begging for her life with the leader of the vampire troop. She says, "Oh, God." He looks at her and replies, "God?" pauses for several seconds and looks around and up at the sky and then looks back at her and shakes his head saying, "No God." The situation reflected the contrast in thinking between believers and non-believers. When faced with trouble we turn to God. We seek God's help at the worst of times and we thank and praise God at the best of times. Non-believers look at us, shake their heads and think to themselves, "No God."

The second point occurs at the end of the film (this is a spoiler alert. If you haven't seen the film and you might like to skip this next paragraph as I'll be revealing plot points at the end of the film). When things seem to be hopeless for the few remaining humans, Ethan (Hartnett) takes a syringe of vampire blood and injects himself with it so that he can fight the vampire leader. After Ethan defeats the leader the other vampires slink away and our heroes survive, except Ethan. Having turned himself into a vampire, he chooses to sit and watch the sun rise, effectively committing suicide. Because of his self-sacrifice Ethan becomes a Christ figure in this story. He sacrifices himself and his life in order to save everyone else. Jesus said in John 15:13: No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Not only does Ethan demonstrate his love for his friends, he demonstrates the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.

While 30 Days of Night is not the best horror movie you can rent this Halloween season, it is an entertaining film with a somewhat different twist on the traditional vampire flick. If you like vampire or horror movies it's worth a look.

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