Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Alex Palmer, Bindu De Stoppani, Jukka Hiltunen, David Schneider, Cillian Murphy
His fear began when he woke up alone. His terror began when he realised he wasn’t.
Activists for animal rights break into a laboratory and while trying to free chimpanzees who are used for experiments, one of them gets bitten and turns into a zombielike aggressive beast and attacks the others. The chimpanzees that was contained there had been tested with a new virus called “Rage” and rage is exactly what this virus brings.
28 days later (yeah, that’s where they got the title from) Jim wakes up from a coma in a hospital in London. The entire hospital is abandoned and he walks out into the streets where he is also all alone. After exploring the city for a while he gets attacked by infested zombies but is saved by two other humans which he goes on to form a group with. They try to find a military base near Manchester to seek refuge and safety, but when they arrive they find out that it’s not only zombies that are to be feared.
28 Days Later was a hugely successful movie that was created on a modest budget of 5 million pounds. It starts off greatly with the empty streets of London, a very epic and eerie look that has even been ripped off in the TV show The Walking Dead years later.
The film is done by Danny Boyle who had gained a lot of attention, mainly after doing Trainspotting. It seems like the movie was shot digitally, something that doesn’t make the film look very good but does add some extra feeling of realism to it. The music however is done quite well, something that is very common in the movies from Boyle.
As with most great zombie movies, 28 Days Later also tries to add some symbolism and comments on the real world we live in. The idea of “rage” seem to be about the violence and aggressiveness that exist in our society today. There are also some more subtle symbolism about christianity and other stuff that you are likely to miss on your first viewing.
The “zombies” present here are more or less infected and aggressive humans instead of your slow walking, rotting corpses from the George Romero movies. Together with a few other running zombie movies in the early 2000’s, it sparked a lot of talk among horror fans on just what the rules of zombies should be. Some where pro-running zombies since it’s more terrifying and the danger level is upped a lot since you can’t just walk past them and even one zombie is a big threat. On the other side the nostalgia of the slow decaying flesheaters feels like a more true to its original form with them being brain dead and just following their most basic instincts of stumbling towards whatever food they find. In the end it doesn’t really matter at all and the key is in how they are presented to the audience. I do prefer rotting corpses over the raging humans in 28 Days Later though, the latter is basically humans running ragingly against you and while that is of course very scary if it happens in real life, I just enjoy a zombie in full makeup a lot more on the screen. The angry humans are also presented in very fast quick-shots which doesn’t help them either in my opinion.
While it is Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Red Eye) who is the star as Jim, it’s Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Ninja Assassin) as the strong girl Selena who steals the show. The supporting cast all do an acceptable job on their characters.
28 Days Later is a modern take on the zombie genre, without adding anything new to it except the threat of running zombies instead of the traditional slower ones. It starts off very good, but becomes mediocre during its long running time of 113 minutes. The last third leaves a lot to be desires, but it’s still an entertaining film that is worth watching.