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“28 Weeks Later” Review – Beneath the Blood and Gore, An Excellent Film Awaits May 7, 2007

Posted by drowmage in 28 Weeks Later, Movie Reviews, Movies.
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British films are cool. So far, from the ones I’ve watched – there’s no happy ending, no stereotyped characters, and everyone’s a bastard no matter what. Today, I watched “28 Weeks Later”, the sequel to the cult film “28 Days Later”, which was apparently inspired by the cult classic “Dawn of the Dead”. But it’s not a zombie movie, it’s way more than that. Here’s the review :

To be honest, I’ve never caught the first movie, “28 Days Later”. With that, I assumed that this film was a zombie movie – something along the lines of classic zombie flicks like “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” (both the 1978 film and its 2004 remake). However it turned out to be a variant version of films like “Outbreak” and “Resident Evil” – yet tastefully done to keep you on the edge of your seat.

In the first movie, an outbreak of the “Rage” virus leads to a near-deserted London. Once infected by the virus, the victims slowly succumb to it and become mindless, with the virus driving them into a murderous rage; tearing, biting and ripping anything that lives. In the sequel, it no longer takes that long for the virus to affect a person – but in a matter of seconds from being infected, the victim becomes the murderer.

In the opening credits of “28 Weeks Later”, there is a brief explanation on what has happened between the first movie and the second. The first wave of the infected victims, termed as the ‘Infected’, had died from starvation. A NATO force, led by the United States, had clamped down on London, and quarantined the city; cleaning up the mess. Weeks later, the quarantine was lifted on the Isle of Dogs, and a new city was being rebuilt. Refugees and survivors returning to England were placed here.

When siblings Tammy (Imogen Poots) and Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) return to London after the city was declared safe, they are reunited with their father, Don (Robert Carlyle). Don, however, tells the children that their mother, Alice (Catherine McCormack) had fallen victim to an attack from the ‘Infected’ – only the three of them are left of their family. Feeling guilty for not even having a picture of his mother to remember her by, Andy convinces Tammy to sneak out of the ‘Green Zone’ – the heavily guarded section of London – and back to their home to pick up a few momentos. To their shock, they find Alice still alive, and unaffected by the virus.

However, their mother was indeed bitten and infected; and although her body was immune to the virus – this made her a carrier. Unknowingly, Alice is brought back to the ‘Green Zone’, where a doctor, Scarlet (Rose Byrne) finds out that she may carry the antibody to fight the virus – but General Stone (Idris Elba), in charge of securing London’s safety; wants Alice killed to avoid further infection. In the midst of all this, Don sneaks into the medical facility to see Alice. Soon after, through a series of events, the virus begins to spread once again – plunging the city once again in chaos.

This was definitely NOT a zombie movie – not just by resisting the usual formula to define a zombie. The ‘Infected’ did not sluggishly drag themselves across the floor; instead, they attacked and ravaged with inhuman speed – like the mindless aliens from the “Aliens” movies; and they didn’t die first before turning into the ‘Infected’, but were instantly transformed after getting infected by the virus – hence disputing the term “The Living Dead”.

Newcomers Mackintosh Muggleton and Imogen Poots did a reasonably good job as the two children stuck and surrounded by the murderous ‘Infected’; without over-acting or seeming wooden. More numbed by shock and loss than anything else, their characters gave the film a different dimension to look at (after all, we’ve grown bored with seeing couples as the main characters of such films). Robert Carlyle (“Full Monty”, “Trainspotting”) has always been an excellent actor, and again he shines in this film. Without giving away too many spoilers, let’s just say that you can feel his pain, rage, and sadness in this film.

Although “28 Days Later” was directed by Danny Boyle (“Sunshine”), he chose to be the executive producer for the sequel, and the director’s chair was given to critically-acclaimed Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (“Intacto”). Juan Carlos’ style is different here from other horror/gore flicks, moving away from a clean, ‘arranged’ Hollywood look and feel, giving it an almost dreary look and hopeless feel to the film, as if this is what the future entails for all. The character build-up was lacking in the film, however – yet it serves to enhance it rather than to turn it into a bore fest.

The film has its fair share of blood and gore – though there’s more blood most of the time. Most of the scenes were obviously shot using a digital hand-held camcorder, giving the impression of frenzy and panic as the ‘Infected’ jumped on their victims – almost bringing you into the film. The usual shock tactics are used here to create suspense and make you jump right out of your seat – the quiet, eerie silent build-up before the action happens; dark, gloomy underground passages; and viewing the characters through night-vision goggles – and seem to keep you engrossed in the movie without cheapening it.

The more impressive scenes are the aerial shots and wide-view look of a completely deserted London city. Known to be one of the busiest cities in the world, it is almost disturbing to see a handful of people walking down the deserted streets – in broad daylight. Even more disturbing is scene from the helicopter – not a single car can be seen on the London Bridge or any of the roads – leading you to wonder at either the impressive digital technology, or the citizens from using these roads during the filming.

Beneath the layers of gore and blood however, the message is clear. During the Dark Ages, pestilence and plague were destroyed by quarantining towns full of people and burning them to the ground. In the wake of the recent SARS outbreak and the bird flu virus in Asia, the question still remains; how far can a country go before resorting to the final decision of exterminating all living folk, just to destroy something that can be seen only under a microscope? Would mankind still stand by his arrogance that he alone is superior, as is seen in the film when the General arrogantly assures Scarlet that there is no further infection?

The film is entertaining, with a number of unexpected scenes, leading you to ponder on the possibilities of the third movie just before the closing credits – and the subliminal messages hidden beneath the spatters of blood.

The Drowmage Rates this as :  Stars 4

28 Weeks Later Poster