Retro Review: 28 DAYS LATER (2002)
Zombies, walkers, undead, the walking dead. All of these have been used to scare viewers into believing a zombie apocalypse is imminent. The word ‘rage’, however, had not been put into their minds until 2002. Danny Boyle has had a decorated career so far, directing hits such as Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting. He tackled something a little bit different in the sci-fi thriller, 28 Days Later. Differing from most zombie classics, Boyle tackled the genre in a quite original way.
Filmed entirely in digital video, 28 Days Later gives the viewers a ‘documentary’ feel while experiencing this film. I love when horror movies are shot like this, it gives a more gritty and real feel to the terror that is being shown to viewers.
28 Days Later was released in 2002, based and filmed mostly in London. It was rather successful having only a $5 million budget. It was received well by critics, with 88% positively reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes and was given a 73/100 on Metacritic. Some regard this as ‘the best zombie movie of all time’. I don’t think I would agree with this, but rather do think of it as ‘the most realistic zombie movie of all time’. With that, let’s begin…
The film does follow the premise of ‘zombies’ or the ‘undead’, but it uses the word ‘rage’. The film begins with a few British activists breaking into a medical lab to free Chimpanzees being used for medical research. Ignoring warnings from the scientists, they release these chimps. Not realizing the animals had been injected with ‘rage’, an activist is bit, henceforth spreading the virus that ultimately becomes the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’. This sets up the background for what happens 28 Days Later…..
I won’t go much into the movie, because it is rather suspenseful and this one is better left a mystery then spoiling the fun for people who haven’t seen it. What I will say is this one is good. This is definitely how a ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ would happen – the ‘rage’ aspect was so realistic to me. The way the infected acted seemed a bit more likely than these slow-walking zombies. It also created more frightening moments throughout the movie. Mr. Boyle deserves a lot of praise for shooting this one the way he did. The documentary feel of it gives this gritty sense of fate that is looming throughout the survivor’s journey. If it were shot on 35mm, it would have felt completely different, and possibly ruined this movie. It would have taken away this realism you feel when watching it, that in the back of your mind maybe this could happen.
The acting was far better than you’d expect in a horror film. Cillian Murphy (The Dark Knight), who plays the main character did a superb job of building his character to a climax at the end of the film. His co-stars Naome Harris and Brendan Gleeson also did great jobs of playing survivors in a post-apocalyptic world. My only reservations with this film were a lack of the infected. The best part of zombie films is seeing the infected and seeing them often. This film only did it a few times throughout it’s entirety, and it left some fear and terror on the table that would have been great to see.
I have yet to find a ‘perfect’ zombie flick, and I think it will be hard to do. I am cynical that this will ever happen, I guess I am just too picky. All in all, this movie is probably as good a zombie flick as your gonna get (unless you watch The Walking Dead). It is definitely worth a try, and a great movie to watch just in time for Halloween!
Check out the trailer for 28 Days Later:
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