Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by Danny Boyle
Produced by Andrew Macdonald
Written by Alex Garland
The world of 28 DAYS LATER will be very familiar to those of us who have watched End of the World classics such as “The World, the Flesh and The Devil” and “The Omega Man”. People are fascinated by the idea of the World As We Know It Coming To An End. And 28 DAYS LATER does a truly awesome job of not only convincing us of the reality of what we’re watching, it makes us think about the destructiveness of human nature. There is nothing in the movie that does not occur save through human arrogance and failure. Arrogance in our stubborn belief that we can control forces best left alone and failure through our refusal to maintain belief in our better instincts.
28 DAYS LATER starts off like that great classic sci-fi film, “The World, The Flesh and The Devil”. Remember that one? The first 20 minutes or so of that movie had Harry Belafonte wandering through an eerily deserted New York, looking for people and not finding a living soul. That’s the exact same situation that confronts the main character of this movie. Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up in a hospital with no memory of how he got there and after unplugging himself from the various machines he’s been hooked up to and finding clothes, Jim leaves the hospital and wanders into a London that seems devoid of people. Jim desperately tries to find out what has happened and runs into a pack of red-eyed humans who act like total homicidal maniacs. He is rescued by Selena (Naomi Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley) who inform him that 28 days ago, England was consumed by a plague called Rage which turns those Infected by it into murderous maniacs who only want to kill. There is no cure. There is no hope that anyone will find a cure. The only thing left is to survive and slay.
Even in this horrifying situation, there are those with hope. Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Megan Burns) join up with Jim and Selena (notice I didn’t mention Mark? Don’t ask what happens to him. Not pretty, yo) and decide to get out of London. Frank has picked up radio signals from the north from an Army outpost that promises food, shelter and safety from the roving packs of Infected who dominate London. And they leave London on a road trip to Hope that leads right into Hell.
28 DAYS LATER has been compared to George Romero’s zombie movies and to be honest, there are several scenes and plot elements that appear to have been lifted straight from “DAWN OF THE DEAD”. I’m thinking of the scene in the supermarket that mirrors the mall-shopping scene in the Romero movie and the whole second half of the movie where our heroes are at odds with the military who they were hoping would keep them safe. In fact, that’s an entire subplot in itself of the movie: how our reliance on institutions and people we have been programmed to believe will keep us safe turn on us and devour us. The most frightening monsters in 28 DAYS LATER are not The Infected as we are led to believe. No…the real monsters in this movie are the human beings like us. As we watch what they are driven to in order to survive, you gradually realize something that is truly scary: it’s the so-called normal humans who are doing the most frightening things to each other.
The movie is filmed with hand held cameras in a realistic, documentary-like fashion that draws you into the reality of what is going on. Naomie Harris is particularly good as Selena and she demonstrates in one brutally violent scene that she is a sista that is out to survive. It’s a remarkable scene and you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it. Cillian Murphy is also quite good as Jim and one of the most horrifying things about the movie is watching as he rapidly adapts to this new world he’s woken up to. In fact, I don’t think there is a bad acting job in this entire movie. 28 DAYS LATER hooks you right from the start and you just sit there and are just assaulted by the raw realism that an unthinkable situation is presented. Is 28 DAYS LATERworth your time and your money? Hell, yes. It’s a brutally intelligent horror movie that in light of our world today doesn’t seem all that all far away from where we are now.
28 DAYS LATER isn’t as gory or as bloody as you might have been led to believe. In fact, “BAD BOYS II” had more violent scenes that disturbed me than this movie. The violence in 28 DAYS LATER is quite appropriate to the subject matter and supports the story and characters. Have a good time being scared outta your ya-ya.