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28 Days Later came at the perfect time. Post-911 jitters were at the extreme, and a rogue scientist, it seems, had sent a number of Anthrax laden letters through the postal system. Across the Atlantic, the UK had it’s own an outbreak of mad cow disease, which lead to the en-masse slaughter and burning of cows. In short, there wasn’t a proven appetite for post-apocalyptic entertainment, but the movie really tapped into the mood of the time. This, as well as other factors, like Brian Keene’s first couple of novels in mass market paperback, ushered a veritable boom in zombie projects.

I thought 28 Days Later was excellent for many reasons. However, one remains rather prominent. It wasn’t an American film. The events depicted take place in London, and once the patient wakes to find the world dead around him, the movie viewer was treated to eerie silent, empty shots of the city. It’s even eerier if you’ve ever been to London. Even on a slow day, the streets are crowded with people and cars, and in some parts, the mass of humanity can feel slightly overwhelming at times. I’ve never had that feeling in New York, Washington DC, Amsterdam, Brussels, Athens, Prague, or even Paris.

The film, as alluded to earlier, was very well written. And, for the most part, I was glad the producers didn’t trip over themselves to rush out a sequel and turn it into a franchise. Recently, that has changed. However, calling 28 Weeks Later a sequel is a bit of a misnomer. Sure, it’s the same universe, the same rage virus, and the same fast running, arm flailing zombies, but the characters are all different. In short, the producers have taken a cue off of George Romero’s legendary zombie series, where anticlimatic events are depicted at various stages of the outbreak.

So, 28 Weeks Later sugests the rage virus has run it’s course in Britain. Humanity could do nothing to stop it, and the zombies all died off due to starvation. NATO forces, as spear-headed by Americans, swiftly move into the UK to clean up and repatriate survivors. Essentially, they start at the heart of London, building a “Green Zone” styled compound. It’s enclosed, and it’s strictly monitored by video camera and snipers posted at the tops of buildings. Basically, it looks like a life of comfort under the eyes of what seems like a benevolent American military.

More specifically, however, 28 Weeks Later is also more of a family drama. At the beginning of the movie, a husband and wife have been separated from their children. Their safe house is over-run, and the husband becomes separated from his wife. This leads to guilt issues, because instead of turning around and trying to save his wife, he runs away to live another day. The father and children are reunited in the new version of London, but curiosity gets the better of the children, and they sneak out of the perimeter to go look at their old house. There, they run into their mom — who has survived in a weird way. She’s infected with the rage virus, but has never turned. American scientists figure out that she’s a highly infectious carrier, and before they can kill her, all shit hits the fan, to use a cliche. The husband, who’s still racked with guilt, goes to visit his wife and beg her forgiveness. In a tear filled scene, all is made up, and they kiss. The wife, however, doesn’t know that she’s infectious, and that one mere kiss can be deadly.

Well, the rest of the movie is a standard outbreak, with one added dimesion. The father, out of instinct, still persues the children, as they try to escape the cramped streets of London. Even more, in the name of containment, the American military adopts a zero prejudice attitude regarding anybody on the street. Zombie or not, the soldiers are ordered to shoot anything that moves.

And here is another interesting difference between the first and second films. In 28 Days Later, the surviving British soldiers are psychotic, thinking more about sex and repopulating the world then actually helping people. Even when faced with the end of the world, human borne inhumanity surfaces. In 28 Weeks Later, the military starts off as benevolent, there to serve and protect survivors. The Americans turn to indescriminate bombings, shootings, and gassing only when there is no options left — and there’s even a scene that suggests that giving that pacification order takes a tool on the commanding officer.

So, 28 Weeks Later in no way stands up to it’s predecessor. It can’t. It was made in a different time, when the public had strikingly different, more terrified view. Still, that said, 28 Weeks later is a solid, well made movie. The story is tight and well written. The characters are all real and not cliche’s, and the action and suspense keep the viewer glued to screen. All in all, that’s more than good enough.

–Rich Ristow

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One Comment

  1. Those movies, scaries me as you don’t know…

    I don’t know… I haven’t problems shooting dead walking people… but in those, the people is still alive [infected, but alive anyway…] and.. I don’t know…

    I have rented “28 Weeks Later” a Monday morning, but the next Wendsday I haven’t watch not even the half… I get scary… I honestly… I don’t think I could rent that movie again…

    Really scary…


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