The next stop on this 31 scary movies in 31 days trip is a menacing zombie picture. Sure, zombies usually intimidate their victims and audience members alike, but in Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later…”, human prey don’t have time for intimidation. One cannot weigh and ponder primordial threats when sprinting in sheer terror.
(For other scary movies featured this month, you can link to slideshows of the first seven films, films from eight to fourteen, and films from fifteen to twenty-one, “Event Horizon” (1997), “Ringu” (1998) and “Audition” (1999))
“28 Days Later” (2002) 4 / 5 stars – When you think of a zombie, what comes to mind?
For me, it’s a walking corpse looking for humans to devour with a strong emphasis on the word, “walking.”
Zombies – although certainly dangerous – do not move very fast.
Sure, your average zombie might consider you lunch, but it needs to catch you first.
Even Grandma – with some track and field training in her youth – could jog backwards and give your basic zombie the middle finger without too much effort.
No, the walking undead’s strength lay with their sheer numbers.
When zombies outnumber humans 1000 to 1 in every direction, even track phenom Usain Bolt doesn’t stand much of a chance.
Director Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting”, “Slumdog Millionaire” and “127 Hours”) throws out that proverbial zombie template with his terrifying vision,“28 Days Later…”
Speaking of visions, Jim (Cillian Murphy), a bicycle currier, probably believes his vision is impaired.
He wakes up in a hospital, and while trudging through the hallways and lobby, Jim notices all the phones are off the hook, and doesn’t see a soul.
Not one person.
Finding his way outside and searching through London, he realizes Britain’s most populous city is a surreal ghost town.
Cars, garbage and newspapers lay everywhere, and everyone has vanished.
Eventually and fortunately, Jim meets Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley), and they quickly get him up to speed.
An epidemic has swept Britain which leaves its victims with a disease called “Rage.”
Its name is completely appropriate, because once infected, one becomes a mindless zombie-like creature with yellow and red eyes, owns a vicious maniacal temper and looks to kill the nearest human being.
These “infected” differ from traditional zombies in two main ways.
1. They aren’t dead, but instead, are introduced to a virus.
2. They move really fast with reckless abandon.
While Grandma may easily jog her way to safety in other films, she would be caught and mauled by this group rather easily.
Boyle sets up several unsettling scenes where he flips back and forth between multiple camera angles during chase or attack scenes.
We see ragged first person perspectives of the infected speeding towards their victim, and then quickly, the camera jumps back to the victim’s point of view.
He fills the screen with flashes and throws in horrible moans and cries which help generate genuine fear.
The goals for Jim, Selena and Mark are to remain alive and also find a safe haven from this modern-day medical nightmare.
Unfortunately, it only takes one mistake – exposure to one drop of blood or saliva from the infected – and within 10 to 20 seconds, you become diseased too.
Brendan Gleeson and Megan Burns enter Jim’s life too, and they are welcomed additions to this cast of outnumbered humans.
Boyle delivers an uneasy picture with disturbing images of a hopeless landscape, but also takes an odd left turn in the film’s 2nd half that I didn’t appreciate as much as the earlier cat-and-mouse sequences.
Then again, the film’s latter portion offers a key message that shakes you almost as much as the earlier wild scenes.
“28 Days Later…” is certainly not a traditional zombie picture, but fans of the genre – who’ve seen it – will most likely run, not simply walk, to chase down and tell their friends.
“28 Days Later…” is available on DVD and Blu-ray. It’s rated R for adult situations, adult language and graphic violence.