Film Review - 28 Days Later
From Danny Boyle, the director that brought you “Trainspotting”, is 28 Days Later, a stylish zombie horror that manages to stay true to the roots of the genre, while at the same time propelling it forward. The result is one of the best zombie films of the past decade, and indeed, a film that transcends the genre, and is a legitimately good movie in its own right.
The story opens with a gaggle of radical animal rights activists breaking into a research facility where "the man" is conducting some nasty experiments on some poor chimpanzees. The activists, being the defenders of all things small and furry, immediately set to work freeing the animals, but are interrupted by a presumably insomniac scientist. This researcher, obviously upset, warns the activists that releasing the chimps so would be an extremely bad idea.
“The animals are infected”
“Infected with what?”
Personally, if I was this scientist, knowing what’s at stake, I might have tried to come up with a more convincing argument; at least something that sounds a little more, well, communicable. “Rage” just doesn’t seem that life-threatening to me. Obviously, our nature loving friends feel the same way, as they proceed to release a chimp, which promptly attacks them. Chaos ensues.
It is at this point that we are introduced to the protagonist, Jim, 28 days later, as he awakens from a coma in an empty hospital, and eventually discovers that all of London has been seemingly abandoned. This initial sequence of Jim wandering the empty streets of that great city is incredibly creepy and effective.
Presently, Jim encounters a pair of other survivors, as well as the spastic zombie creatures that have become known as the “Infected”. The infection is apparently transmitted through the blood, and once exposed, a healthy human only has 10-12 seconds before they themselves become an extremely angry, bloodthirsty zombie. This 10-12 second rule is a refreshing device, as it creates great tension in any scene where someone may have been exposed to infected blood. Purists will argue that because they are still alive, the infected are not technically zombies, at least not in the George Romero sense. However, the film is close enough in terms of tone and theme, that I’m comfortable classifying it as “Zombie Horror.”
On the whole, the first two thirds of the film are incredible, with great performances by all, a compelling story and great character development. It even features a shopping sequence, in a fun nod to Romero’s seminal “Dawn of the Dead”. Jim is a complex character, and his continuing and unconscious search for a father figure after the loss of his own father is very compelling.
Unfortunately the film falters slightly in the third act, which differs in tone, and features questionable characterization. It is clear from the DVD, which features not only multiple endings, but also an entirely different third act, that the filmmakers may have been unsure as to how to handle the end of the story. Ultimately the ending they chose, while not as great as what preceded it, is effective enough, and does not diminish significantly from the film as a whole.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Darren LaRose is a huge movie fan. He loves all types of films, from blockbuster genre hits, to obscure foreign films. Film Noir and Japanese cinema are two of his favourite things in the world. He currently muses about all things entertainment at The Blog with No Name - Movie News and Reviews, and movie posters at Posters Online