28 Days Later-2002
Starring-Cillian Murphy, Noah Huntley
Reviewed November 2, 2016
Before the influx of zombie related horror films and television shows filled the land- arguably offset by the success of The Walking Dead series, a little film came along- now almost teetering on its influence being forgotten- that presented this genre with fresh insight and creative storytelling posing questions amid the mayhem. 28 Days Later rejuvenated this largely dormant film category with a gritty story of peril among a group of survivors spared from a deadly virus. The film is smart as it explores morality issues and the needs of society to continue.
We initially are immersed in confusion as chaos immediately ensues. After a brief prologue of a group of laboratory chimpanzees gone mad, inflicted with rage, being let loose by animal liberators, and killing all present as well as inflicting the humans, we meet a lone man named Joe- the timing is relevant as it is “28 days later” from the incident. The young man awakens in a hospital to find himself alone amid downtown London- not a soul in sight. Fortunately, he has been in a coma and missed the crumbling of society due to an outbreak- somehow Joe has been spared. Gradually, Joe meets others uninfected by the virus and they forge through the country in search of a military base rumored to be a safe haven.
The infected humans are not zombies, but rather, violent creatures who destroy anyone in their path. The film not only presents the grotesque creatures, but also challenges the audience to think in a political sense- how will the survivors forge a new society? How will women be treated differently from and by their male counterparts in a world that now lacks any police force or government?
My initial reaction to watching 28 Days Later- years after its initial release- is that it now seems slightly dated, but that has more to do with the legions of copycat films that have come after it and have been exposed to. We have become more encompassed by this type of film, both in genre and in style. Appreciation is warranted for its gritty, fast-paced camera-work, extreme violence, and the use of “infected” who turn from human being to vicious beings.
A fantastic part of this film is that it is not simply a horror film, it is more layered than that. There are moments of great beauty and tender moments among Joe and Selena- the sole surviving female other than the young, waif-like, Hannah, whose world has been shattered by the death of her loved ones. In one sad scene a couple have peacefully committed suicide, rather than face what would surely become of them.
There is a sense of a human story in 28 Days Later, which made me find the film heartfelt and almost sweet. Even the military soldiers- their motivations questionable- are relatable based on the world being turned upside down. A layered, complex, zombie film with some character driven elements.