28 Days Later is one of my top three favorite movies of all time! In case you are wondering, the other two favorites are Green Street Hooligans and Hostel. I love all three of those movies, equally! I rarely re-read the same book, or re-watch the same tv show (can’t stand Friends reruns) or even watch the same movie twice. I’m not saying I never do it. I’m saying I rarely do it because I feel like it’s pointless (since I already know what’s going to happen). That said, I’ve re-watched those three a handful of times already. The fact that two out of three of my favorite movies are horror should prove to you how enamored I am by the horror genre. I figured I’d stick to the Halloween theme and review 28 Days Later. Incidentally, Danny Boyle’s Birthday was actually two days ago. Aside from directing 28 Days Later (2002), Boyle has also directed the movies Trainspotting (1996), The Beach (2000), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), 127 Hours (2010), and Steve Jobs (2015).
At the start of the movie, we are briefly shown a research lab where animals are forced to watch atrocities on several screens to be “infected” with rage, as the scientists’ objective is to cure it. A handful of well-meaning activists free the animals and that’s how the “infection” spreads. Not once are they called “zombies” in the movie because they aren’t zombies in the traditional sense. The idea behind the infection is that it greatly amplifies rage that’s already within us (road rage, etc…) and thus the “infected” start “raging” rendering them zombie-like as they display ebola-like physical symptoms (blood out of most orifices, etc…). Fast-forward to 28 Days Later and Jim is just waking up in a hospital, from a coma (sound familiar?), to an abandoned Britain. All I can say is Danny Boyle did a magnificent job because the chilling scenes of a post-apocalyptic Britain made my blood run cold! Watching Jim‘s lone figure walk around the empty streets, you instantly feel empathy for the guy. At one point, he starts scooping money into a plastic bag, bless him. Naturally, his first stop is his home, to check on his family.
Even when Jim comes across an infected priest in a random church who attacks him, Jim fights him off, then proceeds to apologize to him, the poor dear! Here’s what I find especially interesting; unlike most zombies I’d seen in other movies (up to that point), the “infected” (not really zombies but close enough) were quite fast! It turns out Boyle had hired athletes to play the part of the “infected”. Zombies or “infected” are scary enough as is, but with the extra element of speed, they were straight up terrifying! It’s pretty much standard nowadays for the threat (zombies, infected, vampires, aliens, ghosts, etc…) to be speed-y but around the time this movie was released, it still wasn’t a “thing” when it came to zombies, so that was pretty cool to see.
Luckily, Jim comes across Selena who is much better equipped at dealing with this new world. I like to think of her as the O.G. Michonne (strong black woman with mad skills)! Selena and Jim go on to meet a handful of other survivors (friends and foes alike) but I don’t want to go into too much detail on the off-chance that you still haven’t seen the movie yet. Basically, the focus shifts from Man vs Infected to Man vs Man making you wonder who the real monsters are; the infected or the humans.
There’s something incredibly satisfying about watching Jim evolve from someone who actually apologized to an “infected” at the start of the movie, into a full-on bad-ass! That was the highlight of the movie for me! Cillian Murphy did a great job in his portrayal of the ever-so-endearing Jim. I also loved the shots of an eerily empty London! Can’t imagine that was easy to achieve. The scenes where the “infected” were charging ahead was also amazingly shot (handheld camera?) making the already tense situation even more terrifying! The soundtrack echoed the mood of every scene perfectly! I especially loved two scores in particular; the playful upbeat song when they were having fun shopping at the abandoned supermarket and the ominous thrilling tune that played when Jim went all ninja on them. All in all, the soundtrack was perfection! I especially love what the Brits call “banter” between the characters (everything sounds way cooler with a British accent)!
I’d rented a bootleg copy of the movie while abroad and instantly fell in love with it, to the extent that as soon as this was released on DVD, I quickly purchased my own copy (via Amazon) back in Kuwait. As I said before, I rarely watch the same movie more than once, but I’ll actually sit through this and watch the whole thing all over again whenever I catch it on tv (Showtime). That’s how much I love this movie! It also spawned a comic series and a graphic novel but I haven’t read either one. I would have included a trailer but Cillian Murphy is fully naked when he first wakes up in the hospital bed. There’s also lots of obscenities, blood, and violence in the movie so consider yourself warned. Some might argue that the “infected” weren’t actually zombies so technically this wasn’t really a zombie movie, but I classify it as such. I’ve always loved zombie flicks, always have, always will but in all honestly, some of them can come across as quite ridiculous and over the top. Over-zealous spraying of blood everywhere (just for the sake of having a gory movie), silly story-lines riddled with holes, zero character development, cheap scares, and lazy special effects are just some of the things that can ruin a zombie movie for me. This movie didn’t suffer from any of those faults. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the sequel 28 Weeks Later which was a mess (they had kids in it and everything, in their attempt to make it more mainstream). The result was something very different from the charming B-movie that was the original. That’s actually part of why I adore B-movies, as the focus tends to be more on the story. To tie it in with my earlier post (The Long Walk), Stephen King bought out an entire showing of the film in New York City, as Stephen King is a huge fan of the movie 28 Days Later and would even go on to paraphrase Selena‘s lines in his novel Doctor Sleep. If you still haven’t seen it yet, you must! 28 Days Later was such a sophisticated zombie movie!