This broadly faithful but chronically uneven adaptation of Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s graphic horror novel is a frustrating mix of imaginative design, erratic plotting and underwritten characters. Set in remote Alaska, where the sun is about to set for a month, it vividly portrays a vampire invasion, splashing the cold white streets with hot red blood. The vampires are ferocious creatures – nightmarish eating machines. Unfortunately, the anaemic human characters pale by comparison, drifting aimlessly about the ravaged town as if searching for narrative footsteps in the snow.
The arrival in the isolated town of a pallid, raving stranger (Ben Foster) isa harbinger of the carnage to come: a human acolyte and wannabe vampire, he lays the groundwork for the vampires’ nocturnal attack by cutting the power, severing the phone lines, trashing the helicopter and slaughtering every sled-dog in town. When darkness falls, Marlow (Danny Huston) and his savage pack descend upon the town and feast on human flesh. Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett), his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George) and a small group of survivors take refuge in the cramped attic of a boarded-up house, and the film grinds to a juddering halt.
British director David Slade’s second film lacks the taut suspense of his debut indie feature, ‘Hard Candy’. With its stop-start pacing, odd shifts of tone and artificial-looking sets, it only comes to life during sporadic bursts of neck-devouring or head-severing violence – or in the distressing scenes where cute vampire-infected children must be dispatched before they make a meal of their parents.