28 Days Later - A Time No One Wants To Be Apart Of.
With Warm Bodies, Zombieland and of course The Walking Dead, we are in the time of zombies. The Zombie genre is absolutely fascinating for me. I am going to go all the way back and claim that Frankenstein being one of the first greats. There has been some amazing zombie flicks over the decades. Movies like Re-Animator, Resident Evil, and Dead Alive are some greats, but Romero holds the crown with 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead” which in my humble opinion is a pure Classic.
In 2002 the British introduced us to 28 Days Later. To me this movie revolutionized the zombie genre, and there is no going back.
In the past zombies were mindless lethargic creatures, with brains and flesh on the menu. There were not may reasons why zombies exist unless you count the 1984 movie “The Night of the Comet” in which a radioactive comet turn the majority of the population to either a flesh eating mutant, or a pile of dust..
In Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, staring Cillian Murphy and Naomi Harris, we start with a reason.
The opening scene of riots and turmoil is just a hint of the evils to come. We have the animal rights activists determined to put an end to animal suffering. When confronted and continually warned that the monkey’s are “infected” (our first replacement of the word zombie”) they stubbornly ignore the plea and lo and behold, the messenger was right. He tries to kill the first of the bitten but fails and is killed in return. With violence raging, blood, and vomit spewing, the infection spreads in seconds.
We cut to Jim, our main character. Awakening in an abandoned hospital from a coma pre-apocalypse.
Now I may be wrong, but this came out in 2002 and Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead was released in 2003. Both stories have VERY similar openings. Jim wakes up in the hospital just like Rick Grimes wakes up in the hospital. Could Kirkman have picked up the idea from this movie? Another comparison between the two stories is in the Walking Dead the word “zombies” is replaced with “Walkers” or “Biters”, and in 28 Days they are referred to as the “Infected”. The two are like siblings, closely related but total individuals. What came first… the chicken or the egg?
We see Jim wandering an uninhabited London. He comes across the tribute board of pleas for missing loved ones. This can easily be mistaken as unimportant, but in the scheme of things it gives humanity to the film. This appropriately leads to Jim entering the church that is overrun with tainted lost souls. There is a moment when one practitioner sits up in the pew giving us viewers the heebie-jeebies. We need to remember at this point Jim has no clue what has happened or better yet what is going on.
He encounters his first up close infected, the preacher.
Shortly afterwards, we are introduced why this movie has forever changed the zombie genre. Zombies (or the “infected”) now RUN!
There is nothing more terrifying than creatures amped up with rage running at you with only destruction on their to-do list.
In comes Selena who is the no-nonsense heroine. For example, when her partner is bitten she doesn’t hesitate to take him down.
Jim and Selena flee in the direction of the Christmas lights on their horizon and eventually meet up with Frank and Hannah. Again, the movie brings a sense of humanity back with Frank's character. He is the father-like figure that Selena and Jim need. The new family of misfits head out of town on the mission to find the military saviors rumored on the radio frequency.
One of the best edge of your seat scenes of the movie is the flat tire in the tunnel. The rats running past Hannah while she is under the car to the shadows on the tunnel of the super fast infected chasing, our crew seems to make it by the skin of their teeth.
The time spent after that escape from the tunnel (again we can throw it back to The Walking Dead S4E15 with Glenn in the tunnel and Walkers on his trail) was good for character development. These moments bring the group closer.
As with all horror movies, the peaceful development is usually short lived. We make it to the military base that appears to be in complete disarray and puts Frank in a defeated rut. We know with all stories of infection, it does not take much to destroy you. When I ask people why the most visual scene they remember from 28 Days, I received more than one throw back to what viewers call the “Crow” scene.
One drop of blood from the body the crow was picking at drips perfectly into Frank’s eye. The heart wrenching “Hannah I love you very much - keep away from me” moment seems to stick with people and rightfully so. Frank is then taken down by the military that was absent a few moments before.
We are taken with our remaining 3 to the compound and introduced to Major Henry West. Most will recognize him as Doctor Who #9. Unlike many movies where there is a sense of safe passage not matter how realistic, you can see Jim eyeing up the situation.
We find that people are WAY more terrifying than the dead or infected.
Jim, Selena and Hannah are yet again in the race to avoid the infected but also the psychotic horny militia that seem to be more excited there are women than they are with other people. Jim is a problem with this game plan.
It all goes back to simple survival.
Jim is taken hostage and almost executed while Selena and Hannah are forced to play dress up. Once Jim escapes there is a great scene almost missed. While laying on the ground he sees a plane. Maybe England is quarantined after all? Life outside the island my be possible.
There are some epic battles and Jim stealthy rescues the ladies. These parts show how fast this infection spreads. (1 becomes 2, 2 becomes 4, etc.) My favorite visual is Hannah hiding behind the mirror with the infected looking at is own reflection, but nothing tops the fingers in the eye trick proving Jim doesn’t need to be infected to have a bit of his own rage issues.
We then shoot to 28 Days Later. It appears similar to where we originally started. Jim laid up in bed recovering from his injuries. Selena sewing red fabric while Hannah lays out white fabric. We hear a pilot and a plane fly over some infected that look like they are on their last stand.
We see the plane fly over our 3 survivors and their large “HELLO”, proving some made it through the epidemic.
“You think they saw us this time?”