Review: 28 Days Later

Filed under: Reviews

I love movies that turn out to be more than what it seems they WILL be. I'm not talking about movies that look like they will absolutely suck, and turn out to be simply less untolerable than you were expecting (Kangaroo Jack). Rather, I am speaking of films that, from trailers, articles, etc., you are looking forward to for one reason, and it winds up having an unexpected depth that causes both a greater appreciation for the film itself, and a deeper admiration for the director and his/her intentions.

As I have said in many reviews in the past, and I will say in many reviews in the future, I love horror movies. In fact, if my plans don't change too much, next year I will be working on my graduate thesis on horror films. That being said, I wanted to see 28 Days Later because it is a horror film. I wanted to be frightened, and this want was not left disappointed. This film from director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) does frighten, but it also deals with several ethical questions about human nature in a surprisingly objective (as objective as is possible) manner.

A small group of assumedly left-wing activists inadvertantly trigger an apocalyptical catastrophe when, in an effort to free primates from a British research facility, they accidentally unleash a virus onto the world that leaves its victims almost instantly (within 15-20 seconds) insane with rage, whose only desire is to kill/infect the uninfected. Because the virus is spread so easily, the world quickly succumbs and crumbles.

28 days later, a young delivery man, Jim (played by Irish newcomer Cillian Murphy) wakes up in a hospital room, only to find the entire building, and city, seemingly empty. As he is wandering, he eventually ends up being found by some of the few uninfected survivors left, and the small group must try to survive both the zombies and the fact that civilization is pretty much over.

The above is the horror movie aspect of 28 Days Later. There are lots of scary surprises that make the audience do a collective jump, and VERY scary looking zombies salivating, grunting, and chasing, with their red eyes seeming to peer out of the screen and into the viewer's soul. However, once Jim's small group finds "sanctuary" at an army base with uninfected military personnel, it becomes clear that fellow man is as dangerous as the zombies may be in situations in which "normality" becomes ENTIRELY subjective.

28 Days Later is a treat because even if it was JUST a zombie movie, I still would have liked it. However, Boyle goes above and beyond to bring about several ethical debates on the screen which makes his movie so much more than what, on first glance, it may appear to be.

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