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28 Days Later ... [2002] - 3.97

Anti-vivisection activists make a very bad judgment call and release an experimental monkey infected with "rage". 28 Days Later..., as the title has it, bicycle messenger Cillian Murphy wakes up from a post-traffic accident coma in a deserted London hospital, ventures out to find the city depopulated and the few remaining normal people doing everything to avoid the jittery, savage, zombie-like "infecteds" who attack on sight.

Our bewildered hero has to adjust to the loss of his family and the entire world, but hooks up with several others--including a tough black woman (Naomie Harris) and a likable London cabbie (Brendan Gleeson)--on a perilous trip northwards, to seek refuge at army officer Christopher Eccleston's fortified retreat. However, even if they survive the plague, the future of humanity is still in doubt.

Directed by Danny Boyle and scripted by novelist Alex Garland, this is a terrific SF/horror hybrid, evoking American and Italian zombie movies but also the very British end-of-the-world tradition of John Wyndham (Day of the Triffids) and Survivors. Shot on digital video, which gives the devastated cityscapes a closed-circuit-camera realism, this grips from the first, with its understandably extreme performances, its terrifyingly swift monster attacks and its underlying melancholy. Deliberately crude, 28 Days Later is also sometimes exceptionally subtle. --Kim Newman

Customer reviews (av rating: 4.0):

Rating: 4:
Danny Boyle's finest : This gripping virus horror from Danny Boyle is quite possibly the best British horror in a long while. Right from the start you know it's going to be something special. The Infected (as they're called) are terrafying, the feel of post-apocalyptic London is brilliant and it is surprisingly well acted for a horror film.

Rating: 5:
HELLO ! HELLO! HELLO! HELLO!.................. : I am a little behind with this film just watched it and it was totally brillant. The opening part with the empty streets of London with the overturned cars etc and rubbish everywhere was a remarkable piece of filming. How they did this this filming I really don't know but who cares it blew me away. The acting was of a very high standard which is good to see when normally so called A listers are paid to do these roles and they can't act. I am now looking forward to seeing part 2 I really hope it is as good as this masterpiece. Bottom line great acting,gore,story and above all the filming in London and surrounding areas and not forgetting the motorways. BUY IT.

Rating: 5:
ONE EMOTION EFFECTS THE COUNTRY : A film that at time plays like a frenzied docudrama, 28 DAYS LATER... is unrelenting, grim, horrific, and completely nightmarish. Images of violence against humans dominates the screen for a few minutes, and we soon learn these are televisions mounted against a wall, broadcasting non-stop footage of the inhuman things people do to one another. A monkey lies strapped down, facing these images, helpless. There are others in cages nearby. A band of environmentalists break in, predictably to free these imprisoned monkeys, but a conflict ensues as a scientist barges in and warns them it would be completely insane to do so -- they're infected with Rage. However, since scientists normally equal evil corporations and dehumanized technology known for cruelty not only against animals but humans, they proceed to free one of the apes... and total pandemonium breaks loose as the monkey viciously attacks its freer, and in seconds we see her eyes have become red. She is an infected.

And this is the simple setup for a movie that in 100 minutes frightens the pants of even a jaded person. To see shots of a deserted London magnified by shots of abandoned vehicles, overturned equipment, and a haunting collage of missing persons that recalls the scores of photos of the missing that did not survive the 9 - 11 attacks, is extremely disturbing and unsettling and made me squirm in my seat as Cillian Murphy's character Jim walks around town, having awaken about a month later from a coma. It's not reassuring for him to know he may be the only surviving person in the city, and soon he learns there are others out there... but not reasonable, frightened people as much as ferocious predators who will rip the flesh right off you, and if mercy takes over, you may die right there and then, because it only takes 20 seconds for full infection to take over and turn you into a raving monster.

That he is saved at the last minute by others who have survived the madness is his saving grace. These are Naomi Harris as Selena and Noah Huntley as Mark, who brief Jim on what happened in haunting monologues, and that Danny Boyle stays focused on Huntley's face as he relates to Jim his own story is flashback enough: it only heightens the terror that swept London and that is still alive and well. This prompts Jim to go visit his parents, maybe hoping they are still alive, and after a near-fatal encounter with an infected there in which Mark does not survive (Selena, absolutely committed to survive this, hacks him to pieces after quickly noticing he's been infected), they barely manage to escape more infected before meeting two other people, a bearish man and his daughter (Brendan Gleeson and Megan Burns). They have been listening to scattered transmissions that are indicating Manchester holds a possible refuge for survivors.

Once they make the decision to leave to Manchester the movie takes a turn and becomes a road film and involved a harrowing if somewhat implausible escape from London through a tunnel, where even the rats are running away from the sheer horror these barely seen people have become. That they eventually meet this fort in an already destroyed Manchester gives them little reassurance, which proves to be true as a small band of military guys lead by Christopher Eccleston have dubious intentions with the women.

And here is where Danny Boyle cleverly turns an apocalyptic movie into a study of the human race: can the people who are supposedly meant to protect us be actually worse than the ones who have fallen to a devastating plague? The answer, quite simply, turns out to be yes. That this makes Jim do a much needed transition from dazed youth to fierce survivor drives the point even more home: Rage wiped out most of the population, as a virus, but in given circumstances, is found quite well within us, and Jim becomes so filled with it at one climactic sequence it takes Selena a second before reacting that he hasn't yet been infected.

This is a very tense film. There are moments of quietude in a field, where sleep comes uneasy, and even that moment to me was worse than any of the moments when the infected actually sped out and after any of the characters. Seen in stroboscopic images, they becomes even more frightening than if seen as lumbering idiots. If the ending seems a little too upbeat, maybe it's only the decision Boyle and the screenwriters took after having us gone through so much gut-wrenching tension and clear calls, that it was only fair to have Jim, Selena, and Hannah survive and see a glimmer of hope at the end. Other than that, 28 DAYS LATER compresses the battles with good and evil in a world gone wild instead of going all over the place with too many characters like THE STAND and many others do. Intelligent, repulsive at times, unbearable, this was one of the best films of 2003. The DVD release has some nice extras, like alternate endings, deleted scenes, for those into investigating further into Boyle's dark tale.

Rating: 5:
A different approach. : This film goes along some of the lines that the Resident Evil films do, but appart from the aspects of their being a viral outbreak and massive hoards of monstrous enemies attacking a small group of survivors, they don't have much similarities...

The Story: Firstly, it is important to understand that these aren't 'zombies' therefore this is not just another zombie flick. The enemies in this are not brain dead, very difficult to kill, flesh hungry weirdos. They are instead known as the 'infected'. One of the aspects that makes this film scarier is that it works on the idea of a viral outbreak, like how people worry over outbreaks of flue and such things (although this 'outbreak' is just a little more terrifying and less likely to actually happen). Anyway, the infected are people who suffer from a disease that is so contagious that one drop of blood in the eye causes them to suffer the effects in seconds. The disease inhibits any form of emotion besides anger, which is ellevated to beyond the point of literally uncontrolable rage, making them turn on anyone who they see as uninfected and either infecting them by exchanging DNA (throwing up blood in the face seems to be the favoured method) or simply beeting them to death, they may bite them but it's not for food. Obviously this outbreak has infected almost all of the inhabitants of Britain and a small group of survivors become the main characters of the film. Most films like this have their survivors being military or cop types. These guys are just completely average londoners. Our main character Jim is a Bicycle courier, the heroin Selena is a chemist and Frank (who dies before the end) is a cabbie with a daughter Hannah. Although the main focus of the film is how they evade the infected and ultimatley infection, the story is how make their way through this appocalyptic England to a military stronghold in Manchester lead by Christopher Eccleston. With lots of 'edge-of-the-seat' suspense, sudden scares and a reasonable level of gore, blood in the face and thumbs in the eye sockets- lovely, this will have you gripped, terrified and then head over the toilet for an hour, all the while incredibly excited.

The Acting: What can I say? The acting is terrific, the emotions that every character goes through, especially Selena played by Naomi Harris who tries to shut them out, looks so incredibly genuine that they might aswell have been reenacting a situation that they had been through like that.

The Production: The filming is done with a digital camera that has a higher shutter speed than normal cameras do, giving it a much more exciting and faster paced look. Special effects aren't really seen in this film as far as I can tell, but the effects of the infected are brilliant, with red irises in the eyes and an incredible 'turned-savage' look, it truly makes them look like the kind of people that you really want to stay away from. The best aspect of this film, I think anyway, is the music. If you don't fancy the film then atleast listen to the soundtrack, which they have also used in the sequal '28 weeks later...'. The music is so beatiful yet so differently used in the film. For example, at end when the infected invade the stronghold, it is not a suspencful or jumpy, creepy music but in fact this really nice then lively rock ballad that has a really great effect.

Overall: This was a great film that although didn't have a very large scale of 'action' scenes, it still more than satisfies and is different from any other 'zombie-flick'. Plus the sequal comes out on DVD in Septmeber, which looks to be even better. At 3.97, you're looking at a good bargain.

Rating: 2:
Disapointing. : I was expecting a lot more with all the good reviews, its starts really well, some great scenes of London deserted. The film loses itself when they finally reach the military base, it just doesnt feel right. The characters dont respond realistically to the threat either, they seemed way to relaxed. Not enough Zombie blasting.

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