28 Days Later was a 2002 post-apocalyptic horror that revived the horror genre and launched the modern era of zombie flicks, which includes World War Z, Warm Bodies, and Shaun of the Dead.
The film was directed by the acclaimed Danny Boyle, who after this film, would go on to direct Academy Award-nominated films in Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours.
The film stars Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson and Megan Burns. To no surprise, each performance is good. Unfortunately, there is little to no characterization for these great actors. The audience is solely following how they survive the predicament they are in.
The movie begins with animal activists freeing apes from a lab but little do they know that the apes carry a deadly virus, which makes them physically aggressive and thirsty for human blood. It then jumps 28 days later where we find Jim (Murphy) naked in an abandoned hospital.
Now, what is going to jump off for many viewers is the poor quality of the shots. A lot of this movie was shot using a Canon XL1 digital video camera, which is small and maneuverable. The style was intentional and while you may be turned off by the quality of shots, it doesn’t takeaway from the ruthlessness of the film.
You are going to have a total blast with this film. The buildup to zombies approaching our protagonists are gripping as we get quick cuts of shots that come off as first-person views from the zombies’ perspective. The camera did these run-up shots to the locations the characters are at and then we get their entrance shortly after. It’s terrifying and the grainy quality only adds to the horror of the zombies attacking our characters because we really don’t know their fates until the zombies are dead.
However, the best part of this film comes in a very dark tone shift in the third act where are protagonists find shelter in a military blockade. What seems like an answer to the infection becomes a conflict of man vs. man and the questioning of what humanity is. Major Henry West, played by Christopher Eccleston, says that there isn’t much difference between zombies killing people versus people killing people. They’ve lived through war and this is really no different for them.
We find out that this blockade isn’t all it seems to be as we get some sad imagery of slavery as the military has kept a zombie, who is black, alive and chained-up to see how long it takes for them to starve to death. Soon, it’s revealed that they sent out a signal in hopes that women would come and provide sexual pleasure for the men there. At first, I thought they were wanting to keep the human race alive and the only way to do that is to procreate, but no, I was tricked. These men are truly evil.
There’s also a lot of great, riveting action as well in this final act and we get a war-like scene between the zombies and the military.
This is one of those films that you are proud of watching because it’s not a film that gets talked about a lot. You are going to feel satisfied once you show it to friends or family. While it does take around 30 minutes to finally become invested in, 28 Days Later has a compelling narrative, great gore, great action and a riveting final act that will leave you in awe.
6 down, 25 to go.