Posted in Film Commentary

Review: 28 Days Later (WARNING: NSFW)

So I decided to review this as my first horror film of the month for many reasons. 1) I took a British Horror Film class in college and people I have talked to since have wondered why I would bother. This film is, in fact, British horror, so I wanted to show off that our friends across the pond are just as good if not better at making movies as we are. 2) I am a huge fan of zombie movies, and this film has been cited in various places as being the spark that reignited the popularity of zombie films. 3) I’m also a sucker for social commentary, and this film has PLENTY of that. Ok, so there are even more reasons than that, but these are definitely my top three. Shall we begin?

First off, this film is absolutely beautiful. The cinematography is great, as there are numerous scenes that are both gorgeous and unsettling. Camera angles are used wisely, sometimes at slightly tilted angles to remind you that while what you are seeing is not in itself unpleasant, there is something wrong with the picture.

There are of course the occasional scenes of people lit up with red lights, full-face close-ups, etc. for the sake of a free scare here and there. However, there is also a lot of meaningful imagery in this film. For instance, we know Jim (Cillian Murphy) is going to be an important character from the moment we first see him because we are shown not only his awakening, but how he was left in the hospital.

While he may not have his arms completely spread out, this shot does present Jim in a Christ-like manner. Not only is this shot similar to that of the crucifix, but one must remember that Jim is waking up after being essentially left in the hospital left to die/ assumed dead. No one expected him to wake up, including his parents. The first infected he comes across is a priest, who in turn gets killed (and thus, saved?) thanks to his discovery. In short, the guy is the Christ figure of the story.

Since I’m semi-unintentionally branching on to the story element of the film, I want to bring up a question that was brought up in my horror film classes in college. When you really think about it, what does the film think should scare you? On the surface, many people would say zombies, but that’s not entirely the case. What makes this movie creepy (I hesitate to say scary because a large portion of horror movies don’t scare me anymore) is the complete loss of structure. What should scare you is Selena’s acceptance that surviving is the best you can do, the soldier’s mentality that it is ok to hold women hostage and rape them as long as it gives you a false hope for a future, and that the rest of the world would lock you in and pretend you never existed in order to save themselves.

The larger implications of this story are the downright chilling components of human nature that none of us like to talk about, and it is made worse by focusing on four characters who are generally good people. Selena is out for survival but is not heartless and will help people who are not infected, Jim understands that his entire life has changed and tries to make the best of surviving while still holding onto good manners and civility, and Hannah and Frank try their best to maintain a family environment despite the worst, which is both encouraging and heartbreaking.

As for the actual plot, I think the story is mostly realistic and easy to identify with but with a few not-very-realistic scenes thrown in for excitement. Although, it is one of these unrealistic scenes that causes the story in the first place that I still do not understand. The rage virus breaks out because an animal liberation group breaks into a research facility to save some chimps, not realizing they are infected. The scientist that tries to stop them and the liberators all get infected, but it is never explained how the virus breaks beyond the facility itself. I guess you could say the place doesn’t have very good security considering that the liberation group was able to break in, so perhaps it wouldn’t be hard for people with the rage virus to break out. However, I still feel that this is a bit of a stretch, considering that the scientist did call security as soon as he noticed the break-in.

This movie has a good message about the importance of a compassionate society as opposed to selfish individuals acting with only their interests in mind, and it did a great job of reinventing the zombie film. No longer are zombies undead creatures that will eat your brains, but rather they are diseased humans that should be pitied and remembered for who they were despite what they became (like Hannah saying she wants to bury her dad despite the fact that his corpse is infected). This movie has a great combination of scare factor and philosophical ideas about society, and it brings all this to the table with elegance and beauty.

Favorite Scene: 

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2 thoughts on “Review: 28 Days Later (WARNING: NSFW)

  1. Plus those buggers are fast as hell! No more knocking them down and getting away clean. Super scary film…and a great review here.

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