28 Days Later

SPOILERS ABOUND IN THE REVIEW YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ SO IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE RUINED FOR YOU THEN READ THE NEXT LINE AND THE NEXT LINE ONLY;

This movie is a great addition to the zombie genre. Scary as shit, like jump-in-your-seat scary in several scenes. DEFINITELY worth a rental and if you’re a zombie fan, then definitely worth putting in the collection, right next to your Romero films.

OK, YOU HAD YOUR WARNING.

I remember when I first heard the title of this one I thought “Oh man, they made a sequel for Sandra Bullock to prance around in?” Luckily for me, that was not the case with this one. The title signifies the month that passes after a viral infection breaks out of a laboratory in London.

We start out the movie with Jim, NAKED Jim, in a hospital bed. He’s just recovering from a coma after an accident. Jim is a bike courier and went into the hospital before the madness began. He wakes up and is in total shock of what has happened. Some very ominous first few minutes. How would YOU feel if you woke up one morning and there was nothing left? Everything was just abandoned, and not in the “Where’s everybody gone? Oh they’re all at Wendys” kind-of-way. Would it creep you out? If you ask me, then HELL YES IT WOULD.

I did a review of Day Of The Dead the other day and talked about why it was my least fav of all the Romero zombie films. Adam came back with some discussion that I’d heard before about social commentary and I can see this but at the same time, I think that 28 Days Later is an even more obvious social commentary (I’m a pretty dense dude sometimes and I need it spelled out for me!).

The premise of the “zombies” in the film is not actually one of them being undead. They are actually living humans who have been infected with a viral form of rage. Yeah, rage. The anger you feel when someone cuts you off. The anger you feel when someone insults your mother. The rage that you would feel when someone killed someone close to you. Yeah, THAT kind of rage. Can you imagine being in a perpetual state of that? Being infected with rage is quite a bit different than the conventional zombie (ha ha ha, “conventional” zombies!) due to that main reason. The rage also explains how and why they are what all of us geeks have been calling “fast-movers”. Rage is not a calm thing. When is the last time you heard of someone who had road rage kindly asking a fellow driver to pull over so they could buy them a beer and discuss their driving differences calmly? Yeah, rage PULLS YOU IN ALL KINDS OF CRAZY DIRECTIONS. Rage results in an out-of-control person. Hence the jerkiness and the quick movements of Danny Boyle’s zombies. Trust me, I didn’t mind.

I wonder if this was a social commentary on how out-of-control we have become and how close we could truly be to this sort of epidemic. Being infected with rage seems a hell of a lot more possible than slow moving zombies who were victims of a toxic spill or an asteroid.

Maybe this makes me less of a zombie fan in the eyes of the hardcore zombiephiles but honestly, I thought the fast movers give a sense of urgency to how dangerous the scene really is. Another thing that adds to that urgency is the fact that once someone is infected, you’ve got less than a minute to dispose of them or they will dispose of you. All throughout zombie films, the bitten become a zombie but there’s no definitive timeline between the infection and the turning. I know that all people react different but I thought that the under-a-minute time line made it EXTREMELY creepy.

Yes, the slow movers are the classic ones and they just amble along aimlessly (or is it REALLY aimless? Supposedly they are heading to familiarity) but the fast ones would scare the living shit out of me and decimate human existence a LOT quicker than the slow movers. Slow moving zombies kick ass but at the same time, they make for a horror movie that would be over relatively quickly if people used common sense. You can outrun a slow mover, no problem. A fast mover, hmmmm I dunno.

Some interesting points that I picked up on this time and missed on the first viewing include a scene where a young boy is killed by one of the main characters. As I was watching the scene, I heard something but thought I was just nuts. So I back tracked and then put on the closed captioning and sho’ nuff I heard something. The boy, as he’s being dispatched hollers “I hate you”. Wha????? Another example of how the infected are not truly DEAD, only in a perpetual state of erratic motion and jerkiness. Very wild. It does seem a bit odd though, that out of all the zombies in the film, the only one who speaks coherently is this boy. Honestly, I imagine it was on purpose but at the same time I can’t help but wonder why the adults never spoke at all. They only jerk around and spit and growl.

What I liked too about this was that Boyle provided fodder for some serious discussion points in this film.

The scene where Jim and Selena are discussing life after all of this and she says “You were thinking that you’ll never hear another piece of original music ever again. You’ll never read a book that hasn’t already been written or see a film that hasn’t already been shot.” That’s a really scary concept if you think about it. If we as humans are not constantly evolving, rotating new ideas, and creating new things than it’s only a matter of time until we become stagnant. The arts are a big part of humanity and if they are not carried on, then we’ve got some problems to deal with. I loved that particular monologue by Selena. It’s a great point and a very scary thought.

Or how about the pacifistic soldier who says “If you look at the whole life of the planet we, you know MAN, has only been around for a few blinks of an eye. So if the infection wipes us all out, that is a return to normality.” Another point to be made, the fact that mankind has declared this planet ours. We abuse it constantly, we take all of nature’s things for granted. Earth does not NEED us. The world has been spinning for quite some time and humans have only been here for a short time, when you think of ALL TIME.

The scene towards the beginning where Jim first meets up with Selena and the discussion of government arises, Jim says “What do you mean there’s no government? There’s ALWAYS a government, they’re in a bunker or a plane somewhere!” Until he said that, I had never really comprehended a disaster large enough to dismantle the government. That’s pretty scary too, because as Americans, the government is one of the centerpieces of our existence. Whether or not you like the current government, you’ve gotta admit that if anarchy ruled the streets (at times it seems like it does anyway) the US of A would be an absolutely terrifying place. Any country that didn’t have leadership in place could regress to basic anarchy and humans running amok with no constraints.

The last point to be made was a discussion point with a couple guy coworkers. Both sides of the table were represented. Logic and emotions do not make a good relationship. One of my coworkers says that once the soldier’s true motives were revealed to Jim, he nearly walked out of the theatre. The concept of forced procreation really disturbed a lot of people. Yes, it IS disturbing and YES it is rape. Not being an advocate of violence against women in any way, shape or form, it’s still difficult to say that it would be necessary to propagate the human species. Emotions aside, logically speaking you HAVE TO CARRY ON SOMEHOW.

While watching it this time, I sat and thought up how exactly it COULD have worked if Jim had not averted disaster. The soldiers had planned on using women to harvest new humans. It’s an absolutely horrible idea. The coldness and unfriendliness inherent in such an idea is so unpleasant to think about.

BUT in order to carry on humanity, it would be a necessary evil. I suppose if proposed in a less threatening manner and with a mutual understanding of all parties involved the importance, it may not be as horrid as people may think. Another coworker sided with me on the idea of procreating as completely necessary as well. I think that the main reason my buddy/coworker was offended was because one of the women involved in the plot was only a teenager. A fragile teenager who had just lost her father to the infection. Her fragility was not quite as much an issue as her age. If both of the women had been “woman” age, I’ll bet there would not have been as much of a stink about the whole idea. Even though the soldiers had a really shitty way of dealing with their idea and a horrible nonchalance about approaching it, I think that it would be necessary. Granted, if all of humanity was wiped out, I really don’t think that there would ONLY be 2 women left on the planet. There have been viruses and plagues throughout history and there have been survivors. This would be no exception. There would be plenty of women who may have the emotional maturity to realize the importance of their childbearing. How about women who are unable to have babies? What would happen to a woman who is unable to birth a child for whatever reason? Hopefully, there would be some semblance of organization and mankind would not revert to a Darwinist mentality. Hopefully, we would all help each other along and consider each person an asset in one way or another.

Was looking across the internet and came across some trivia that I hadn’t given much thought to. The chained up zombie idea was borrowed from Day of The Dead and the grocery store scene was borrowed from Dawn Of The Dead.

Hmmmm….Well, once again I rambled. I tend to do that when talking about movies that leave an indelible mark on my psyche. This is one. Access Hollywood said that 28 Days Later “isn’t just scary…it’s absolutely terrifying!”

Yep. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

posted Thu, 04-21-05

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