Danny Boyle’s thrilling horror flick 28 Days Later can probably be held responsible for creating the fast zombie phenomenon; the stereotype of slow, shambling, brain-eating zombies are thrown out of the window in lieu of regular, live people infected with the Rage virus, a virus somewhat like rabies, although foaming at the mouth seems to have been replaced with loss of self-preservation and cannibalistic tendencies.
The film’s opening does little to explain the history of the Rage virus, instead showing animal rights activists sneaking into a research facility to free some locked up chimps. They are quickly discovered by a frightened scientist, who urges them not to free the animals, as they are infected with “Rage”. The activists seemingly disregard this and free one of the apes, which quickly dashes out of the sealed cage and rips a chunk out of the activist’s throat. Animal rights ideals seemingly abandoned, another grabs an axe and dispatches the ape; unfortunately the damage has already been done. The bitten activist, puking blood and beginning to thrash, must be killed to contain the infection, the scientist insists. Nobody can bring themselves to do it before the infection has spread throughout the activist’s entire body and she attacks the scientist. The infection is born.
Cut to twenty-eight days later, and bicycle courier Jim wakes up from a 28-day coma, naked in a deserted hospital. Beds are thrown about, snack machines are smashed, and there are no people, living or dead, anywhere in sight. After finding clothes and grabbing a couple scattered cans of Pepsi, Jim leaves the hospital only to find the entire city of London deserted and rife with signs of catastrophe. The long shots and slow pans across a totally empty version of England’s capital, in daylight even, creates a haunting atmosphere experienced throughout the whole film. The entire film was shot entirely on digital video, and as well as being a landmark for that format, creates an entirely appropriate gritty feel.
Jim soon stumbles into a church, and this is where the action really begins. Being chased by infected without knowing their true nature, he runs for his life and meets Selena and Mark, two other survivors. With their help they destroy the infected behind them using a mixture of timed explosives, petrol cans and Molotov cocktails.
The film goes on to establish that the virus is spread through blood and saliva, so mixing yours with the infected might not be the best game plan. Unfortunately, infected are like the stubborn douchebag who accompanies you everywhere: they’re not easy to evade. Does the film have a happy ending? Well, you’ll have to see it to find out. Be warned though, because the infected aren’t the only antagonists in this action-packed moral story. In a quarantined Great Britain, even fellow humans can get a bit desperate. Does this justify the events near the end of the film? Probably not, but the scenario makes for a great heroic sequence.
Filled with action, gore, interesting moral questions, and even a little bit of romance, 28 Days Later definitely brings the zombie horror genre kicking, screaming, and maybe even biting, into the 21st Century. The results are fantastic.
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
28 Days Later
I watched the movie 28 Days Later last night, and although my writing skills aren't exactly on par with the sort you find on aggregate sites such as Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, I was tempted to review the film. So, for what it's worth, here's my short 28 Days Later review: