Making a direct to DVD sequel to one of the surprisingly best Horror movies in the last decade just sounds like a bad idea. For the most part, it comes off that way. It tries to recapture the elements that made its originator such a blast to watch, but rarely is able to while trying to grind its own style and story out. It tries to be its own thing, that is respectable in its own right, but it comes off as something less than spectacular and rarely meets the standards set by the first one.
Stella (now played by Sanchez rather than Melissa George from the original) has been going on a series of lectures about the vampire attacks on her home Alaskan town of Barrow. She still pines for her lost hubby from the original, and when a group of vampire hunters lead by a mysterious man named Dane finds her and recruits her to tackle the head of the vampire network named Lilith she decides to join to kick some undead ass.
Although the film tries desperately hard to be as stylistic and vicious as the original, this one just suffers from being a "Blade" knock off far too much. It missed the heart of what made the original one so damn scary. Instead of isolation and survival, the film focuses on hunting down the queen of the damned...oops...sorry that's taken. Lilith, the orchestrator. How's that? And it loses some of that misty atmosphere. Not for lack of trying, as it does do a fine job of building a darkness around its Los Angeles settings and using some clever camera work to try to accomplish this. It just never captured the right tone for what it needed to be.
The film also suffers from trying to explain too much. Now the vampires speak English along with this long dead dialect and they have an organization and hierarchy to their little underground society. Rather than the mysterious and violent beasts I expected, I got a gang of blood suckers that didn't strike fear into me near as much. In this way, using the vampire hunters and giving them a cause, the film tries to be its own entity but it just seems sub par for the course and done to death in a trillion vampire films prior.
For a straight to DVD sequel it did surprise me a little with how high quality some of the acting was (okay, high quality isn't the right term, perhaps better than average is better) and it does have a rather polished look to it. Had the film forgone the semi-idiotic last moments (the falling action of the last minutes actually brought my rating down at least half a star) and didn't try so hard to be an action packed version of the original, it might have faired much better. As is, "Dark Days" is a fine dollar rental or cheap buy, but definitely nothing to get all that excited about. Mostly for franchise whores like myself.
BONUS RANT: This film has some pretty solid make-up effects to counterbalance some of its poor CGI effects. Too bad the damn fake blood looked awful! It looked like grape juice! It never had the right consistency or color! What the hell? This is a vampire movie! Get that part right.
Written By Matt Reifschneider