Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
28 Days Later (2002) Directed by Danny Boyle; written by Alex Garland
28 Days Later is a hybrid movie. It has elements of a Plague Drama, such as the Andromeda strain, Outbreak or The Stand. It is also a Zombie Flick, ala Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Late Winter Afternoon of the Dead…you get the idea.
Like many hybrids, it is heartier than either parent strain.
Animal activists break into a lab to free the ‘torture prisoners’ there; a group of chimpanzees. The scientist working there (an excellent performance by David Schnieder) tries to warn them that the chimps are infected, that their behavior is modified by inhibitors, but they are horribly infectious. (Here is a clue. If each animal is in a separate airtight container, they probably are infectious.) The self righteous do-gooders don’t listen, and the beasts escape, attacking their rescuers. (I like a dollop of irony.)
The movie cuts to the next act. Jim (played by the incredibly talented and sexy Cillian Murphy) was in an accident. He wakes up naked in a hospital bed, still attached to monitors and IVs. After a few seconds of sharing all Nature gifted him with, Jim finds some clothes and sets off to find out what has happened.
Not only is the hospital deserted, so is all of London. He creeps around the city, wondering what has occurred. He sees not another living soul. Then he enters a church.
The main entry is blocked, so he steps up to the loft, and looks into the sacristy. There are wall to wall sleeping people. Jim says “Hello.”
This proves to be a mistake. He now knows what has happened; everyone has been changed into a homicidal maniac, and he is fleeing for his life.
He is rescued by Mark (Noah Huntley) and Selena (Naomie Harris), a pair of Molotov Cocktail wielding survivors. They hole up in a store behind the drop shutters and wait it out. The infected are mostly active at night.
Jim insists they find his parents. They walk there the next day. Jim’s parents committed suicide; pills. Their last thoughts were of him, in a coma. Their last words, “Don’t wake up.” Mark dies in Jim’s house when they are attacked by Jim’s neighbor. Mark was bitten, and Selena kills him with a machete, because you have ten to twenty seconds from infection to homicide. Together, they move on.
They pick up two more survivors; Frank (Brian Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah, (Megan Burns). They also pick up a radio broadcast that gives them a destination, someplace where the military claims to have the solution to the infection.
They journey there, dodging the infected the whole way. Once there, they find a group of soldiers living in a fortified manor house. They are saved.
Well, perhaps from the infected. But problems come in more than one flavor, and one of the worst is aggressive young men suffering enormous psychological trauma, who have been without women, or a higher authority for about a month.
This is a wonderful apocalyptic film. It is a fresh take on something that has been done, and overdone, mostly because Zombie films appeal to some deep atavistic side of our nature, the wee trembling mousy whose survival was hide or flee. This new approach is well done. Zombies, read infected are easier to kill, shoot them anywhere. But the splatter is contagious. Also, these zombies turn faster.
The film has a hard gritty feel. It uses several tricks and techniques to move the mood; infected attacks are filmed with a jerky camera, lots of shifting scenes, and bursts of fast forward, to simulate the chaos of the attack. Also, the musical score is brilliant, building suspense, and used to underscore mood. Any time there is music playing they are either under attack (ominous building music) or nostalgic for the world they have lost.
The actors also add so much. Special note should be made of Christopher Eccleston, who played Major Henry West, leader of the soldiers. Brian Gleeson of course was excellent, as always. And most especially the credit goes to Naomie Harris (Calypso for the Pirates of the Carribean 2 &3) and Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow from Batman Begins) these two display a subtle chemistry, not overdone as is seen in so many end of the world flicks. Cillian Murphy’s low key take on the character of Jim is one of the better parts of the whole movie. Now, only a crass cad would suggest the initial nude scene would make the movie worth watching all on its own.
Of course, the initial nude scene, with Cillian Murphy in the hospital bed doesmake the movie worth watching, all in itself.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy the end of the world.
The Dead Shall Walk the Earth!
Romero: Father of Zombies.
Night of the Living Dead
Diary of the Dead
Land of the Dead
Another kind of "Zombie" Movie:
28 Days Later
28 Weeks Later
England's first true Zombie Movie:
Shaun of the Dead
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Resident Evil: Extinction
Resident Evil: Afterlife
Resident Evil: Degeneration
Assorted Flavors of Shamblers:
ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction!
Survival of the Dead.
Creatures from the Pink Lagoon
The Zombie Diaries
Boy Eats Girl
Day of the Dead-The Need to Feed.
Flight of the Living Dead
Return of the Living Dead
Edges of Darkness
Dead Space: Downfall
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age