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United Kingdom/France 2002
Directed by
Danny Boyle
112 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Mike Esler
3 stars

28 Days Later

Synopsis: A virus capable of transforming people into murderous beasts is accidentally released in Britain. 28 days later with the population all but wiped out, a handful of survivors struggle against infection, roaming zombies and each other.

28 Days Later
is a credible tilt at a topical horror story set in current day London. Filmed on Digital Video the look is flashy and the sound - particularly in early scenes of apocalyptic London – electronic, loud and relentless. SFX are laudable, granted it’s not that hard to show an horizon on fire nowadays but some of the scenes of deserted London must have taken some serious logistical skill. Much of the footage was shot in the very early dawn when police could more easily hold back traffic and pedestrians. Consistent with the overly optimistic vision of previous end-of-the-world films, plot holes are rife. One of the biggest concerns the condition in which our male hero Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up after a 28 day coma. Aside from a tidy thirst, he’s fit and ready to race through the streets of London chased by murderous infected zombie types, when quite obviously his recently ripped out IV drips had been unattended for weeks. Three days in bed and I’m weak as a kitten but hey, maybe Armageddon would motivate me some.

Jim is chased into the impossible eyelashes and imposing machete of Selina (Naomie Harris). She has been hiding out with Mark (Noah Huntley) living on chocolate bars and soft-drinks – beware, spine-tingling product placements lurk in every corner. They have thus far survived the insanity of the virus (I don’t know why, they just have) and now with Jim aboard decide to check out his folks’ house. Things go from bad to worse and after hooking up with two more survivors, father and daughter, Frank (the calming, ever reliable Brendan Gleeson) and Hannah (Megan Burns) the four head north in Frank's hansom cab to Manchester in the hope that an army battalion stationed there can protect them. Doh!

If we don’t look too closely in the wrong places, 28 Days Later is a reasonably entertaining, if at times nasty, trip - buckets of blood and the odd machete hacking had one fellow viewer squirming. The suspense and violence is computer game bred and through DV looks it. Hate as disease is a compelling concept and the film’s sub-textual themes of man’s inhumanity to man, science turned against its master and rage as an incurable and all-consuming sickness seem neatly-placed amongst the putrefying death imagery.

I can accept we deserve everything we get when we muck about with nature just as I can accept Selina is a dab hand at machete-wielding because she is a trained pharmacist. It just makes sense to me. In the end the fact the film doesn’t take itself too seriously probably saves it. It’s no laugh riot but a certain black-humored pragmatism pervades.




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