So let’s get this out of the way…28 Days Later is not a zombie film. They are not zombies…they are humans infected with rage. They are infected not the dead re-animated. Easy as that…
Now that we’ve cleared that up we can talk about one of the finest zomb…I mean, infected humans horror movies ever made.
The movie opens showing a group of animal activists breaking into a lab where chimpanzees are held captive. The activists are discovered by a scientist who begs them not to release the chimp explaining that they are infected with a rage-inducing virus that spreads through blood & saliva. However like all good animal activists, they ignore him & release a chimp that then attacks one of them. She is instantly infected (the speed in which it spreads is terrifying) & attacks the rest of them.
Skip to 28 days later & we meet Jim (played by an incredible Cillian Murphy) who has just woken from a coma in a Central London hospital. Disorientated & confused he makes his way through a deserted hospital & out into the streets of a deserted London. All around him are signs that something bad has happened. This section of the movie does a great job of showing his isolation within a city the size of London. Just where has everyone gone?
After discovering a church he goes in & finds it full of bodies. Desperate he cries out & watches in shock as several get up to look at him. He is then attacked by an infected priest but manages to escape back to the streets where he is pursued by even more infected.
Jim is saved by Selena & Mark who blow up a gas station before taking him down into an underground station for safety (Canary Wharf). There they explain what has taken place over the last 28 days & what it means (reports of infection worldwide).
Later after an unfortunate incident at Jim’s family home, Mark is killed before he can turn leaving Jim & Selena to go it alone. They eventually meet up with Frank & his teenage daughter, Hannah. After hearing a pre-recorded message from the military that the answer to infection is near Manchester they all agree to go there in Frank’s black cab.
It’s a long & dangerous trip that might all be for nothing…just what is the answer to infection?
28 Day Later is such an enjoyable film for 4 reasons:
1. The calibre of the acting. Quite simply some of the best stuff you’ll see in any horror movie. All ranges of emotions are played out & those that had to play infected really made sure they came across terrifying.
2. The infected are scary as hell. The pure aggression they exhibit alongside the sounds & the look, it’s the stuff of nightmares especially when you see how quickly it takes hold.
3. The landscape. London & its surrounding areas is a great place to set this. For a person that lives here to see locations they know but devastated by the virus makes it a much more harrowing watch. At other times the movie shows of the beauty as well, those moments of peace & tranquillity are some of the best in a frantic movie.
4. The music. It’s got to be some of the best music I’ve ever heard in a movie. Placed perfectly to fit each scene, it never feels out of place & even some of the more elaborate stuff works incredibly well.
It’s very hard to fault 28 Days Later as it rarely takes a mis-step. You’ll feel fear, pain, anxiousness, peacefulness, sadness, anger & hope as you watch. It’s a rollercoaster of a journey that unfortunately doesn’t quite end as well as it possibly could have.
It’s no secret now that there were multiple possible endings yet they chose to go with one that made things a little too happy for my liking. A film like this doesn’t need a happy ending; it’s a dark & twisted affair & the end of everything (if the infection was to spread outside the UK).
Still it’s a minor complaint in a movie that is consistently great throughout.
28 Days Later