Day 18 of 31
Director : Danny Boyle
Starring : Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Megan Burns, Brendan Gleeson . England/UK. 1h 43m.
I feel quite bad for not reviewing this film earlier but after adding it to this year’s Halloween list I will take a axe to this amazing film that helped re define a genre, change perceptions on low budget films (yet again) and catapulted the careers of Danny Boyle, but all of the main cast. I think it’s a bold statement to say that 28 Days Later was the first film to introduce a new breed of zombie to the big screen but it’s certainly the most iconic film that introduced “the infected” a faster, messier and more irrational and destructive zombie to a stunned audience.
A recovering bicycle courier awakes in a empty room, in an empty hospital, in an empty London, after a group of animal rights activist try to release a chimp from a lab who’s been infected by RAGE, while we’re trying to work this out, and why London has been left barren the courier, Jim (Murphy) encounters Father Jack Crilley but this fekker is on meth or something. Jim is soon on the run and encounters two other survivors; Selena (Harris) and Mark (Huntley) who break the news to him, the world became infected by a virus that caused the living to turn into mindless killing machines (seemingly on amthematimes). Selena, whose backstory isn’t really highlighted in the film but is evidently dark all the same, announced “everyone you know is dead”. Jim still wants to go back to his family home and encounters his hungry neighbours after finding that his parents conducted a suicide pact. The trio soon turn into a duo in one of the quickest most violent scenes I’d seen in modern british cinema, flabbergasted I asked my movie buddy chunk “hey man did she just kill that dude, but what? Wait… “ I had seen a lot of horror and I was actually shocked.
They stumble on Frank (Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Burns) who have hauled themselves in their flat and have been picking up radio signals from a surviving army base saying that they have the cure and a sanctuary. So they band together and head north, all the while Selena starts to show her human side while Jim toughens up and begins to weather this harsh world that he’s awoken into. But this sanctuary and this cure, is it all too good to be true. After meeting the troops it’s apparent that their is another motive and Jim starts to unravel the situation that they are really in.
So how do you turn an $8million film into $80million? Well you have some amazing actors, a great story and you don’t play by the rules. Danny Boyle had amazed us Shallow Grave (1994) and Trainspotting (1996) and while these and his other films are brooding, they were nowhere near as gut wrenching and melconsholly as this violent epic. The zombie uprising was starting to brim and 28 Days literally blazed through all the fluff and delivered time and time again in its 113 minutes a range of dark and terrible situations. Without having a safety net, a rescue team an explanation or a real safe haven, I often had paranoid thoughts running through my mind while watching the film, thinking what would I do in this situation, and like a lot of other people it was the fear of this new strain of “zombie”, something much faster than we’d ever had to prep for in the past, welcome to the new flesh, it’s faster than Usain Bolt and it’s “coming through your living room window”.
Every character is so real and so easy to identify with, I honestly didn’t see a buff decision, the ones that make horror movies, it’s all rational (apart from some made in the numerous alternative endings) but still this horror constantly pursues the group. Being a movie of two halves the terror starts to come from a different angle once they meet the last remaining soldiers the threat doubles rather than subsides, and we have a whole new horror game, the band of roughnecks headed by the upstanding Christopher Eccleston.
Despite the graphic horror of blood vomiting red eyed monsters, hyped up on rage, there are some serene moments in the film, the group shopping in budgens to a Granddaddy soundtrack as their greater numbers encourages a return to normality but pretty soon it’s back to the harrowing soundtrack arranged ad created by John Murphy.
It’s relentless, dark and has several kick to the gut moments, it really is a hard to forget journey, a game changing experience that you won’t forget easily.
R – 28 Weeks Later (2007), The Road (2009)
L – Infected Films, Apocalyptic films, A-Z of British Horror
A – Zombies Vs Infected
5s – Danny Boyle, Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Brendan Gleeson.