I had to review at least one horror film for the run-up to Halloween!
With a brilliant first act, a decent second and a disastrous third, 28 Days Later, directed by Danny Boyle, is a good mature horror film with empathetic characters and an unnerving depiction of a zombie apocalypse.
Waking up in hospital Jim, (Cillian Murphy) discovers that Britain and presumably most of the world’s populace has been infected by a ‘rage’ virus, turning them into zombies.
After getting attacked by some of the infected he finds Seleena (Naomie Harris), another survivor. While wondering the streets of London they find Frank (Brenden Gleeson) and his teenage daughter Hannah (Megan Burns).
When Frank plays them a radio broadcast from a military base in Manchester, the group decide to trace its source and journey through infected England.
While Jim may come across as a basic ‘every man’ character we see through his dialogue with Seleena and particularly when he visits the house of his dead parents, that Jim is compassionate and is willing to protect those he loves.
Of course these are values most people have but in the film’s hostile environment, where you have to fight to survive you feel worried for Jim as he struggles to support those values while he argues with Seleena.
She believes that trying to protect loved ones only slows you down and will get you killed.
As the film progresses and the characters get to know and like one another, Seleena experiences the purpose behind those values and begins to let go of her hierarchal viewpoint.
This would’ve been a fantastic end to 28 Days Later but unfortunately it occurs half way through the second act.
The film’s climax takes place at the military base in Manchester where it is revealed the soldiers want to keep Seleena and Hannah as sex slaves to repopulate the country.
What 28 Days is trying to do thematically at this point I have no idea.
Jim tries to get out with the girls but is captured and taken out to be shot.
He then escapes his executioners and, after breaking into the mansion and releasing an imprisoned zombie onto the troops, successfully flees with Seleena and Hannah.
I thought that maybe Jim sabotaging the base and rescuing the girls might’ve suggested that he’d adapted to the hierarchal world Seleena believed in and learned to fight for himself.
But why at a military base? Why couldn’t Jim learn that on the journey with Seleena? There he could’ve seen why its important to let go of emotions and fight to survive. Doing it at a military base after Seleena had abandoned those beliefs just seems hypocritical and farfetched.
Overall despite its excellent first act, great cinematography and good performances (apart from Megan Burns, Hannah is a robot. Seriously. She can’t act) 28 Days Later should be remembered for its unique contribution to the zombie genre in terms of ideas.
Apart from that it’s a great film that dies at the end.
28 Days Later gets a mediocre 5 out of 10.