28 Days Later... (2002)
UK / English
"His fear began when he woke up alone. His terror began when he realised he wasn't. "Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.
Flawed but thrilling British horror movie
In England a group of animal rights activists break into a research
to free monkeys. However the monkeys are infected with a new developed
virus called rage which is contagious by blood or bodily fluid - at the
time Jim lies in a coma. 28 days later Jim awakens from his state to find
London deserted and populated only by a group of those infected by rage.
Jim is rescued by Selena and her friend who tell him what has happened and
start a search for other survivors and a quest to find the cure, promised
a military unit stationed in the north.
I excitedly arrived at the preview for this looking forward to a tense
British horror movie to make me jump with fear. I got pretty much what I
wanted. The plot is simple and omits much detail but not to it's
disservice. Details as to what the virus is or what it was created in the
first place (by putting monkeys in front of TV's Clockwork Orange style?)
but the detail is not important seconds into the film when we wake up with
Jim. At this point his fear becomes ours and what is important to him is
not the detail but the bigger picture of the infected and the chances of
The plot is told in two parts. First the big picture in London and then
smaller battle north of Manchester. Both are well told but for different
reasons. The bridging section of the journey north is good as it helps us
know the characters better. Of course is it scary? Well, not scary but
thrilling all the way. To me scary is things like Ringu - creepy stuff,
most will be freaked by 28 days later. The infected are not zombies in
definition or in action - they move silently and fast and with pure blood
lust. I was always more scared by zombie flicks than anything else becomes
they keep coming - here they do the same but fast!
The direction is good for the most part. The opening scene in London just
shows how badly Crowe did his bit in Vanilla Sky. Here it is clever and
chilling to see much of London totally empty. The direction is better
it is fast cutting and handheld style. We see things like the characters
would see them out of the corner of their eyes, a flicker, a shadow etc
it works to great effect. The only downside is that, at one or two
the attacks were signalled by a preceding talking 5 minutes, but this is
minor. The final rain soaked action is excellent - fast, gripping and
paced. This film doesn't rely on gore or special effects (although it is
there) instead it has genuine tension and fear.
The film is very British. It is very low-key and realistic. The
are not Mad Max style heroes but people clinging to life by a thread or
setting up survivalist measures that simply don't work. The ending is not
as good as I had hoped but it wasn't bad and it fitted with the tone of
reality that Jim had realised when lying on his back in the woods towards
the end. It's not without flaws but the film is a very good British
film - Americans will wonder `where are all the teenager girls to scream'
`why don't they all have guns' or `why is there no real dah-dah music to
tell us when something is going to happen' but that is because this is a
British film and not Hollywood.
Most reviews have praised the `unknown' cast. Well I agree the cast did
very well - but unknown? Murphy certainly is not unknown (and won't be
now on) and he does Jim very well, from when the truth is first real to
to his decision that he must learn to kill through to his transformation
near the end. Harris is excellent again, I say again as she did well in
miniseries `white teeth'. Her accent is British and she plays a younger
role but she is a good actress. Brendan Gleeson is good in a fatherly
but Eccleston seems clipped and at odds with his military role. In fact
the military guys were laddish caricatures and only just did the job - but
never believed in their characters as I did with the others.
Overall I was glad to see this early. I really enjoyed it, the pace at
times may have been uneven but to me that added to the tension - an attack
could come at any time. The eventual small scale focus helped the tension
and pace of the story. Thrilling, scary, tense and well written - even
surprising is that it's home grown!
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|Storage device:||Divx 1|