PictureDark Days comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie’s natural presentation of widescreen 1.85:1. This is a fairly low budget production, but it still looks pretty damn good on Blu-ray. Sure, it doesn’t stand up against recent blockbusters, or top notch transfers, but – for the material – who can complain? Shot with a slightly unsteady hand (for effect), and with what I assume was an HD camera, the detail is excellent: both on facial close-ups and on the longer shots; with the image retaining a very clean, clear feel. Totally devoid of noise, edge enhancement, or any other frustrating digital artefacts, this is really quite a good look for the movie, which even has a bit of style thrown into the cinematography (even if the downside of such good image quality is that the lower-budget effects are often in given undue attention – but even those stand up fairly well).
The colour scheme is biased towards golden browns that work well to give the film a nice style, but we also get some clinical green and blue-hued sequences, and some more vibrant tones to liven up the proceedings. Black levels are spot on, which makes for solid night sequences – of which there are plenty – and overall this really is a nice little video presentation for the movie. Sure, at times it looks little more than a TV episode sometimes – but even they can look pretty damn good on Blu-ray sometimes, and this is a far better rendition than many would have expected: one of the best DTV video presentations I have ever come across.
SoundThe accompany DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix does a pretty good job too. Again, limited by the material, it still manages to deliver quite an atmospheric – if mostly front-heavy – aural accompaniment. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently for the most part, a couple of the more quietly spoken words feeling a tiny bit muffled, but largely sounding good across the frontal array. The effects – from gunshots to vampiric pack-screams – sound nice, if a little stifled at times, and largely emanate from the frontal array, only occasionally branching out to the rears. Still, there’s some nice dynamic use across the channels, even if it is front-biased. The score is broody and menacing, a throwaway affair which still does well on this low budget production, rumbling in the background and building to much louder moments wherever appropriate. It too doesn’t get much room to breathe outside of the frontal array, but thankfully it does lead to a bit of LFE action. A solid accompaniment for a DTV release.
ExtrasFirst up we get an Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Ben Ketai and Producer J.R. Young, who talk at length – and with great enthusiasm – about the project. They discuss how they tried to maintain the integrity of the world created within the first movie, continuing the events, shooting on a relatively small budget, making the production feel stylised, and utilising all of the most important events from the graphic novel. They discuss the locations and the shooting schedule, as well as the cast members used here. Much of the commentary consists of the Producer spurring the Writer/Director into revealing background information about the project, and this works quite well. Fans of the movie will want to check it out.
The Graphic Inspirations: Comic to Film Featurette offers you a selection of images from the comic, which – if you select – will take you through to some short split-screen Interview snippets with the Writer/Director, who explains the relevance of the scene and offer some background into the production. Much of the material has been covered in the Audio Commentary, but it gets some nice visual help here. There are only 7 selections to be made, and each one only last a couple of minutes, but we still get to hear a little about the original novel, how he wanted to stick closely to it, how he managed to incorporate the key scenes/ideas even on the restricted budget (with specific mention of the lecture, the twisted FBI Agent, the ‘good’ vampire, and the vampire-killing team), as well as how Kiele Sanchez made for a decent interpretation of Stella. This is a nice little extra, and the highlights definitely include the insight into the changes made to some of the characters (giving them a different angle in the movie when compared with the graphic novel), but it’s just too damn short and bitty! Still, if you can’t be bothered to sit through the entire Audio Commentary then this isn’t a bad visually-enhanced sampler.
The Gritty Realism of Dark Days is a 10 minute Featurette helmed by the Writer/Director, who introduces and talks over a selection of Behind the Scenes sequences, shots of shooting the scenes, and final film shots – with some nice interview snippets thrown into the mix provided by the majority of the cast, and also some crew members. There are discussions on character motivations and the story direction, some nice (further) comparison with the original comic book, a closer look at the effects work and the set design, as well as a nice little line about the anaemic Twilight take on vampires, which is the polar opposite of what is on offer here.
Finally we get a bunch of Preview Trailers to round off the disc, including ones for Legion, Salt, Takers and The Other Guys.
VerdictWith an interesting, and sufficiently well-thought-out plot – that largely follows the events of the graphic novel – there really is very little to complain about when it comes to this production. It knows its restrictions, does its best with the budget, tells a reasonable story and stays true to the source material. Add to that a reasonable cast doing some nice work with the limited script, and some fairly nice effects, and you have a pretty watchable low budget sequel. Of course I am saying that in the knowledge that it is still a DTV production, so certainly does not compete to anything of any bigger budget (like the original), but it is still – without a doubt – one of the best DTV movies that I have ever come across.
On Region Free UK Blu-ray 30 Days of Night: Dark Days gives us very good video (considering the material) and perfectly decent audio, as well as a nice selection of Extras which fans will be quite pleased with. Those who liked the original will probably – if reasonably open-minded – quite enjoy this DTV sequel. It’s not amazing, but it is faithful to the franchise, and perfectly enjoyable for the duration. Hell, it even leaves you hoping for more, which surely can’t be a bad thing! Worth a rental.
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