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28 Days Later... (2002)

A 2003 horror film directed by Danny Boyle.

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28 Days Later: Now with MOAR BLOOD!

  • Feb 25, 2011

It must be prefaced that I'm a wimp with an overactive imagination who cannot watch the likes of The X-Files and Unsolved Mysteries beyond sundown. Horror is not my genre of choice, though I have viewed my fair share of horror, slasher and thriller flicks over time. My experience lies with classic horror (Poltergeist, The Exorcist, The Omen, Night of the Living Dead, etc) and quasi-spooky cheesy nonsensical low-budget nostalgic filler (Evil Dead, The People Under the Stairs, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dolls) I have never seen a single Scream/Saw/Last Summer flick and I have no intention to.
With that said, I grew curious over time about 28 Days Later as it was praised as a "smart/clever" horror flick by friends whose opinion I value. Though I have no particular inclination towards zombies, I was eventually willing to give it a try.

Spoiler-Free Synopsis: The "rage" virus breaks out in modern day London and quickly spreads throughout Britain. 28 days after the breakout a young man wakes from a coma to discover the country in ruins, overrun by the infected (bloody thirsty mindless zombies) with scant survivors that he must ban together with.

Spoilers and foul language under the image.

I really liked 28 Days Later! I know! No one is more surprised than me, I assure you. I was completely expecting to either hate it or be too terrified to complete it and give it a decent review.

What I Like:
- The premise is original and thought-provoking. While there really is no one legend/lore on how zombies are created, the idea of a virus developed out of the testing from animals hits the audience over the head with many a moral conundrums. Specifically, what is it to be human, at our bare bones when we are not in control? What would we be like had we not developed society, culture, ethics, etc?

- The cast - including Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, Naomie Harris and Chris Eccleston - were all phenomenal. There were  no weak links in the film, and all but Gleeson were fairly unknown outside of the UK/Ireland which I think was an important move. It's movies like these that ought to be left for fresh talent to really showcase their acting chops, and the two leads hit some heavy home runs.

- Grrrl Power! I wanted to be Selena (or at least hope that I would have her strength and cool should the zombie apocalypse come). A combination of writer Alex Garland and actress Harris provided the "anti-Barbara" (Night of the Living Dead) She's kicking ass and taking names - do not get in her way. I long to see cinematic heroines such as Selena, but alas, they are few and far between.

- I like that Jim (Cillian Murphy) started out as a tool. He was initially on the road to embodying the worst cliche's of horror movie victims, but he soon wised up once he realized that these creatures ain't fuckin' around.

- There is a great split amongst my friends regarding the second arc of the film - when our heroes meet the military men. Personally, I did not mind this; I thought the fact that they were told to "stay" was interesting and that they were also betrayed by a government that seemingly abandoned them. What my anti-second-arc friends dislike is the rape-y motivation these men present and how mundane a device it is, very basic. However, I think it's rather befitting: here are these men, desperate, reduced to near nothing and growing, shockingly enough, quite like the infected...just slower and in a different way. They're getting primal, despite their facade of manners and decorum.

- The ending. I'm not going to lie: I am a sap for a happy ending, especially with movies where the end is nigh. While I know Danny Boyle and Alex Garland's preferences and I've viewed the alternate endings, I prefer the more hopeful ending. I feel it makes up for the shit ending of Night of the Living Dead. Social commentary or not, I claim the ending of 28 Days Later in honor of Ben!

- Most of all, I enjoyed that this film was not so much scary as it was creepy. I don't like scary movies that go for the JUMP/GASP/SCREAM moments. They get tiresome anyway. Sure, 28 Days Later had a few of those moments but they were necessary and did not take away the quality of the film. The overall sense of foreboding and anxiety was by far a superior tone to keep throughout the movie - and not easily achieved I might add because either the cheap thrills of Shit Popping Out is overdone and it gets trite OR the director gives us this huge build up with no delivery (something I have found in over conceptualized Asian horror films that stray from all-out gore fest).  28 Days Later balances itself very well. Honestly, I found it had more humor than true SCARY OMGWTFBBQ! moments. The underlining tone was quieter omgwtfbbq? so the once-in-a-while humor gave it a nice lift. The icing on the cake was that we rarely saw the infected up close and personal. It was creepier to watch them from a distance.

- While I'm on board with the "rage virus" I did not like the idea of the film makers showing actual chimps in cages. I just can't get in board with this, even if it's not "real" it is real. I don't care how big of a "no-no" it is to be told (rather than shown) how the virus came to fruition, I would have preferred it to seeing these chimps in an agitated state for the sake of a film.

- I was under the impression this was a low-budget film, but 5 million pounds (roughly 10 million dollars) is nothing to sneeze at. It was mostly shot on digital video, which for 2002 is saying something, and even though the empty street scenes (with an overturned bus no less) were filmed seconds at a time it's still an empty street in the middle of one of the busiest cities on the planet! Maybe that's where most of the money went, locations. I bring this all up because way back when it hit theaters in my corner of the world 28 Days Later was pimped as "guerrilla film making" but now I think it was more like extremely clever budgeting. Not really a quibble so much as an observation. All I know is the actors got paid enough for things like a washing machine!

28 Days Later Overall Rating
Story: A
Execution: A
Would I Recommend: Yes, for horror buffs and those with a weak constitution for horror like me. If you can tolerate a wee bit of blood and creep factor, you'll be OK. I still wouldn't watch it at night, though.
Would I Own: I do own it!
Can Your Mum Watch It: Uh, not my mom. Unless your mom speaks fondly of her George Romero collection, I'd skip this on family movie night.


28 Days Later: Now with MOAR BLOOD!

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More 28 Days Later reviews
review by . March 27, 2011
A mutant virus turns Britain into a wasteland.
28 Days Later...is a film about a mutated bio-weapon that is released from a lab that infects people with a nasty virus that turns them homicidal. The isle of Britain has become quarantined and only a few unlucky survivors must fend for themselves as there is no one around who can help them. One survivor Jim (Cillian Murphy) was in the hospital during all of this and is awakened to a nightmarish Hell. During his travels around London, he meets up with a few others and try to get out of the city …
review by . October 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      28 DAYS LATER      I have argued it for years and it seems that there are still people out there who think this is a zombie when it is clearly not. This film is no were near being a zombie flick as the INFECTED are not dead they are just INFECTED with a virus that was put into monkeys. I don't know why people think of this as a zombie flick but what ever. This is indeed a great film and when it was released one of the scariest films in recent years. …
review by . July 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I'll start by confessing that I'm not a big fan of Horror films. Don't get me wrong, they are cool. I just haven't seen too many of them. So, I'm kind of a newbie to this genre. This one came highly recommended by numerous friends and acquaintances. So, I decided to check it out.      What stood out the most to me in this one was the way it was shot. It wasn't shot on 35mm film, like most films and a lot of the shots were done hand-held, instead of using …
Quick Tip by . October 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I had a lot of fun watching this when it first came out and still it is fun to watch right now, that's just me. Is this a perfect movie, that is up to you but I have a great time watching it.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Please don't call 28 Days Later another zombie movie. This British cult favorite will keep you enthralled the entire film as you put yourself in Jim's post-virus shoes.
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This is possibly my favorite Zombie film ever. It is just awesome
Quick Tip by . July 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie scared me, we talk about this happening in the real world and it made me think too much. If you like that watch it;0
review by . May 06, 2009
This movie got a lot of attention like the Night of the Living Dead. I recently rented it and was greatly disappointed. This movie deals with a virus that makes people almost like mutant crazies that go around attacking other people. A group of people wander London trying to get back to "civilization." While the characters in George Romero's classic were interesting and you really felt for them, these characters are dull and sometimes act crazy themselves. The British accents were very difficult …
review by . June 23, 2006
I had seen this film a few times and it's surprisingly good. "28 Days Later" is a genre-defying film wrapped in a shoebox budget. The key to keeping the sci-fi horror genre alive is to make sure the material and techniques the filmmakers present is at least competent, at it's average creative, and at it's best something that we haven't seen before or haven't seen in such a style or form. George A. Romero did that back in prime of film-making, bringing forth one of the most memorable trilogies of …
review by . May 23, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
This movie got a lot of attention like the Night of the Living Dead. I recently rented it and was greatly disappointed. This movie deals with a virus that makes people almost like mutant crazies that go around attacking other people. A group of people wander London trying to get back to "civilization." While the characters in George Romero's classic were interesting and you really felt for them, these characters are dull and sometimes act crazy themselves.The British accents were very difficult …
About the reviewer
Rachael ()
Ranked #73
   I am a freelance travel/food writer with my own hobby blog, Glass of Win.   I am a regularly featured writer for Visit the Place Los Angeles magazine and online community.
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About this movie


The director/producer team that created Trainspotting turn their dynamic cinematic imaginations to the classic science fiction scenario of the last people on Earth. Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma to find London deserted--until he runs into a mob of crazed plague victims. He gradually finds other still-human survivors (including Naomie Harris), with whom he heads off across the abandoned countryside to find the source of a radio broadcast that promises salvation. 28 Days Later is basically an updated version of The Omega Man and other post-apocalyptic visions; but while the movie may lack originality, it makes up for it in vivid details and creepy paranoid atmosphere. 28 Days Later's portrait of how people behave in extreme circumstances--written by novelist Alex Garland (The Beach)--will haunt you afterward. Also featuring Brendan Gleeson (The General, Gangs of New York) and Christopher Eccleston (Shallow Grave, The Others).--Bret Fetzer
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Director: Danny Boyle
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Release Date: June 27, 2003
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Alex Garland
DVD Release Date: October 21, 2003
Runtime: 113 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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