A multi-blog look at lists of “Movies You Didn’t Know Were Based On Comics” to see how true they really are.
Barrow is the northernmost town in Alaska, a town which experiences a 30 day-long night once a year. And that makes it the perfect hunting ground for vampires.
The premise sold this comic, and is really all it has going for it. The first issue tries for suspense, building up to the major attack, but, frankly, it’s just building up to the already revealed premise. There’s a fine line between something being suspenseful and something just dragging and this falls on the wrong side. It never sells its strongest feature: the remoteness of the town. Sure, they say it’s remote, and that’s why the vampire are there. But apart from a very few landscape shots everything’s close ups of buildings and people and you never “feel” the remoteness. Part of that is the comic book form, multiple panels on a page can be cramped, but it hardly tries.
The second issue breaks the show-not-tell rule. It’s some time later, the bulk of the attack has occurred and there are few survivors in hiding together. It’s jumped the main horror of the premise – humans being hunted – and skipped to the claustrophobic (but not too claustrophobic because once again they fail to sell the idea) situation of pretty much waiting to die. There’s certainly a nice moment in here where the situation with the vampires changes completely, but it’s mostly survivors bitching about the interesting bit.
The final issue is feels a bit deus ex machina the “hail mary pass” works and works way better than it should even after the reason it’s flawed is pointed out by a character. It does, however, lead to a really great emotional ending. Oh, and there’s an annoyingly pointless subplot that seems only to be there to set up a sequel.
Looking past the above plotting problems, the writing is pretty good. The dialogue mostly works and you do sort of care about the two main characters and their relationship is particularly well written. The art is problematic. Templesmith’s still is a very popular style for horror. Dark and messy. And for the most part it works (although as noted above, it fails on a couple of important points). The problem that this style of art has it it’s inconsistency, especially humans (and former humans). Faces change constantly and there’s just too many bald people to consistently know who is who, and that includes comparing normal people to nosferatu-style vampires.
All that said, you certainly can’t hate the comic. It’s interesting to see what was done with the idea and doesn’t stretch out longer than it should.