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28 Days Later…
Writ. Alex Garland
Dir. Danny Boyle
Str. Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Christopher Eccleston
Opens June 27th

Yet More Proof That Those Scrawny,
Vegetarian Activists Are Going To Destroy The World

There is a fair amount working against this movie. Firstly, it's filmed entirely in DV. And while DV is the newest, cheapest, most cutting-edge and technically advanced style of film making, it's also really choppy and usually looks like a home movie. Second of all it's by Danny Boyle who totally blew audiences away with Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, but has since broken all ties with Ewan McGregor, forged an unholy alliance with Leonardo, and made one of the dumbest movies of the nineties, The Beach. But the biggest problem with 28 Days Later… is that it's a zombie movie. And it's not like an attempt at creating a new style of zombie movies, it's a zombie movie like they made in the seventies, a plot-holes-the-size-of-Kathy-Bates zombie movie. For all intents and purposes this should be a terrible, terrible film.

Free Williamsburg
Film Archive


Capturing the Friedmans
The Eye
28 Days Later
Cowboy Bebop

Washington Heights
Better Luck Tomorrow
View From the Top

Laurel Canyon

Ordinary Sinner
Dark Blue
The Quiet American


Hell House
Good Housekeeping
Roger Dodger
Spirited Away
Punch-Drunk Love
Bowling For Columbine
Scarlet Diva
Full Frontal
Sex and Lucia
The Powerpuff Girls Movie
Read My Lips (Sur Mes Levres)
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Human Nature
Shot in the Heart
Jim Brown: All American
Stolen Summer
Ram Dass: Fierce Grace

Somehow, though, it's not. In fact, somehow it's fucking brilliant. The DV style of cinematography creates gritty images, with harsh contrasts; this lends itself nicely to this style of movie. It Prevents the zombies from looking too hammy, and the gore from looking too much like ketchup… catsup… whatever. Also, Boyle has cast off the bowling-ball-headed Leo and adopted Cillian Murphy as his new leading man. Murphy, a fine actor, with huge expressive eyes, looks slightly simian in the opening shots, but is one damn cute, scrawny brit once he shaves.

Additionally Boyle makes a Herculean attempt to return to the roots of his filmmaking, where his true skills lie: the personal psychological drama. Much like with Shallow Grave, 28 Days Later… is more about the characters than any plot device or clever twist. Boyle seems to be asking, "What would you really do if the entire country was suddenly over run with zombies?" Would you do what everyone else does in every other disaster/horror movie? From The Stuff up to Reign Of Fire, every single god-dammed time they all try to find 'the cure' and try to save humanity at the risk of their own lives? I have no problem admitting that I'm just not that kind of guy. I'd do what Jim (Murphy) does: Find some hot chick (or in my case, some sexy trailer-trash boy in cut-offs) and try to get as far away from all of it as possible.

Boyle has always been good at delving into the various layers of human nature-- in essence that's what all of his movies have been about. He has honed his skills on revealing what is nasty and terrifying about us all; with 28 Days Later… it is no different. If you want to get all Harvard on the movie, you could say something about how the zombies, infected with some new fangled disease, simply called 'Rage,' are representative of the most basic human emotions. Stripped of ethics, morals and decency we simply want to feed and reproduce, kind of like bunnies -- only a lot more gory. But also there is the descent of the last remaining humans, and what they will do, and do to each other to survive. And that's where the movie starts getting good.

Don't get me wrong; this isn't just a psychological thriller set against a post-apocalyptic backdrop. The action is quite top notch. However, while the monsters in the movie are scary enough, they don't hold a candle to the humans left over. There are very few jump-out-of-your-seat moments. No one seemed all the frightened by the movie; rather 28 days later…. is a creep-under-your-skin-and-make-you-question-everything kind of horror movie.

There has been a lot of outcries against the ending; most of which I'll concur with. Boyle tacked on an extra ten minutes that took a lot away from the situation. He could have left the audience unsettled and nervous, but he had to tie up the loose ends, and close everything up neatly. This is the only real problem with the film. Aside from the ending, it's near brilliant.

One Wheel Of Stinky Swiss

There's no getting around it: it's a pretty cheesy premise, with plenty of holes. So just cover your nose and swallow it; it's worth it, trust me.

Four Hungry Kids Wearing Bad Makeup

I liked the zombies in this movie, and I like the way they were filmed. No doubt the special effects budget was on par with my Supercuts hairstyle, so the zombies are pretty much always in the shadows and always just some bloke lurching spastically. All of which lends itself well to the gritty style of the movie, and is pretty darn creepy. Also it must have been a blast being an extra on the movie. All you had to do was flail around for five minutes and you got free doughnuts.

Three hipsters, spouting blood and being generally nasty

In a sharp contrast to The Eye, 28 Days Later… stays as classic and true to a dying genre of movie as possible - your monster movie. I'm not sure if Boyle is trying to revive the form, or just thumbing his nose at the rest of the world, saying 'Look what I can do!' Either way this is a very cool, very creepy movie.

--B.C. Edwards
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[email protected] | June 2003 | Issue 39
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