28 Days Later
Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston
Directed By:
Danny Boyle

28 Days Later begins with a rather ironic event - animal rights activists break into a animal testing lab to set free some caged chimps. Despite a warning to the wise, they release chimps infected with "Rage", a violent virus that infects almost immediately, causing fits in humans, turning them into mindless beasts bent on harming those not infected. When bike courier Jim (Murphy) wakes from a coma in the hospital 28 days later, he finds London devoid of life, covered in the litter of events he missed during his coma.

It doesn't take long before Jim comes under attack by the once-human creatures infected by "Rage". As he tries to get away, he's rescued by Selena (Harris) and Mark (Huntley), fellow survivors who tell him about the events of the mass infection that has ravaged the city. After losing Mark, Jim and Selena come across father and daughter, Frank (Gleeson) and Hannah (Burns), who convince them to head out where a military broadcast over the radiowaves has informed them that there might be fellow survivors.

Once the survivors find the small group of soldiers, led by Major Henry West (Eccleston), they find that there may be worse things than the mindless beasts. Apparently, the soldiers, who have become nihilistic to a degree, have the plan to use the women for sexual pleasure, although they state it's for reasons of repopulation. To save the women, Jim pushes himself to a point not unlike the mindless infected humans.

While 28 Days Later is promoted as a zombie flick, largely influenced by Romero's zombie horror series, it's shows as much influence from King's The Stand in that the real horror lies in humanity itself. The monsters are merely a symbol of the violence inherent in humanity in general. The "Rage" virus proves to be a catalyst that makes monsters who are largely representative of mankind's violent behavior and even those who are not infected can prove to be bigger dangers.

Even though it is shot digitally, the movie is presented with grainy filters and the camera moves around a lot, giving the film a low-budget documentary feel. Most likely because of budgetary reasons, Boyle takes a minimalist approach to effects. The infected, while gruesome, are only shown in small snippets to make their impact all the more effective. The pacing of the film is slow and deliberate by intention, but when the infected arrive, everything devolves into moments of shattered chaos. As much tension and fear is shown throughout the story, there are moments of peace and even a few escapist scenes that help draw back the characters into a human world.

If you go into 28 Days Later wanting a mindless zombie flick, you'll probably be disappointed and even a little lost. The story is so much an example of the horror that mankind itself is capable of that even the terrifying infected pale in comparison. If you're looking for a smart tale of human nature, then give this film a shot.

- - Vane

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