Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston
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.