Sunday, May 20, 2007
28 Weeks Later
One of the oldest human fears is the fear of being chased. Everybody’s had a nightmare where they’ve been pursued at some point. It’s hardwired into us; it’s part of our primitive brain. This is one the big horrors of 28 Weeks Later, of being hunted, killed and devoured just like pray.
28 Weeks Later is the sequel to 28 Days Later, which came out in 2002 (Man! was it that long ago?), a surprise box office hit in the US. In the original film, London and thereby England is devastated by the release of the “rage virus,” a highly contagious, engineered superbug that rapidly transforms people into mindless, crazed, super zombie-like horrors.
In 28 Weeks Later the rage virus has supposedly run its course with some survivors apparently saved while the infected died off from the lack of “food.” The Americans come to the rescue, under the banner of NATO, by repatriating Brits to a secure zone on the Isle of Dogs in London. The job looks to be a cakewalk for the GIs until the rage virus is released anew in an acceptable plot twist. At first, the chain of command tries to protect the civilians, but as “containment” is lost the friendlies get “fired” in an all out turkey shoot. Of course there are a few good guys who have a conscience and help the main characters, but the shocks just keep coming as the characters race through the city trying to escape the infected and the death squads.
Rarely is a sequel as creditable as it’s originator, but 28 Weeks Later manages this feat. It stands on it’s own as an entertaining film but also expands on 28 Days both thematically and technically. Abandoned London figures prominently, providing a haunting environment for the story. The effect is aided by CG but it’s much more subtle than other recent action/horror films. Having been to London, it’s rather bizarre seeing it so empty.
One of the major themes of the 28 Weeks Later is the horror of the choices we make and their consequences. Do we choose ourselves over our loved ones? How about following orders that go against our morals? There doesn’t seem to be any good answers just the shock of what we do when we want to live just a few minutes longer. The action plays out with these sorts of questions in the background along with Iraq allegories.
28 Weeks Later is a good horror/action film. Chances are if you liked the first one you’ll like this one. It’s got plenty of chills and thrills without the ridiculous prototypical action movie gymnastics. It’s more honest and thereby more shocking. One can secretly see themselves making the same decisions if put in similar horrific situation. Primitive fears overrule the thinking brain and that’s the strength of 28 Weeks Later. That’s why you should see it. Well, that and folks getting devoured and infected by zombies hopped up on the Rage Virus.
Note: Following a pop culture trend, a graphic novel was published that ties the two movies together by examining what happened between the two films. It’s titled 28 Days Later: The Aftermath.