rights activists release a chimp from a research laboratory,
unaware it is infected with a virulent virus called Rage.
When one of them is attacked, they are all quickly infected.
28 days later, Jim, a coma patient wakes up in hospital and
wanders the empty streets, believing he is the only person
left. He soon learns that there was an attempt to evacuate
London, without success, leaving only dangerous zombie-like
creatures with a disposition for mindless violence and feeding.
Jim teams-up with a handful of other survivors, and they go
in search of an army blockade which apparently has all the
answers. But the army doesn't provide the sanctuary they expect...
This film, whilst seemingly original, borrows from several
sources. Infected animals being released from a research establishment,
sparking subsequent unsavoury events, has been done to death,
most notably in Chimaera, by Stephen Gallagher. The
hospital patient waking to find he has missed the catastrophe
which started it all, is reminiscent of the original film
version of Day of the Triffids. Wandering around empty
streets like the last man alive, reminds me of The Omega
Man, starring Charlton Heston, based on the horror book
classic, I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson.
fact, the idea of virally-infected people becoming mindless
monsters and attacking a person who is not like them, comes
directly from that book. A scientific explanation for the
breakdown of society, and not zombies in the truest sense.
This film, like I Am Legend, doesn't mention the Z-word
once. Even the mansion house scene has a moment straight out
of the Scooby-Doo cartoons, when a soldier's shadow
is seen running along a far wall, closely pursued by the lumbering
shadow of an Infected, making "Grrrghh!" noises.
The film has some nice moments, including a handful of maudlin
one-liners. The scene where they drive the taxi through the
dark tunnel under the river and get a puncture, is an exciting
movie moment, although you have to question why they chose
to change the wheel before emerging from the tunnel. Who would
care if they damaged a wheel, especially if they were going
to change it anyway? But this deviation from common sense
is a genuine tension-builder.
are few of these in 28 Days Later; the violent and
gristly horror is there, but most of the shocks come from
sudden sound and movement, a common practice in film-making
today. Everybody jumps when surprised, but there is no way
of gauging what frightens most people.
Infected are nicely updated for the modern age. These zombies
(in all but name) are as quick as normal humans, and chase
their victims. The image of one engulfed in flame, chasing
Jim, makes for vivid imagery. There's no glorification of
death here; friends or family are quickly and brutally dispatched
when infected, before the Rage virus can take effect. There
are plenty of gruesome dead bodies to be seen, and the Infected,
far from looking comical as in some previous films, thrash
and vomit and bite in gristly fashion.
The first half of the film, set within the streets of London,
is more enjoyable. The litter-strewn streets, set against
locations such as the Houses of Parliament at Westminster
Palace, Whitehall, Piccadilly Circus, and the London Eye,
appear somehow haunting when empty. I suppose there's something
more immediate about seeing these events take place on your
doorstep. Even the activity in a church and on the stairs
of a block of flats seem more exciting than soldiers and zombies
running around in a mansion house.
disaster movie plot, from the director of Shallow Grave,
felt pretty tight. However, I had to wonder how a gentle and
quiet man can suddenly turn into an Arnold Schwarzenegger
action hero for ten minutes and then back again.
packaging blurb cites 28 Days Later as being the best
British horror movie in the last 30 years. I'm sure the producers
of Dog Soldiers and Ginger Snaps would probably
argue that one, but I will accept it's a well made movie which
bridges the horror and mainstream genres with its realism.
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