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28 Days Later



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Yikes!  It's shadows!  SHADOWS!  Danny
Boyle has truly "reinvented" the zombie flick,
and these shadows are "scary as hell!" 

28 Days Later
Review written by: Alex Sandell

The marketing gurus behind the impressive 28 Days Later ad campaign can claim that Danny Boyle has "reinvented" the zombie horror film until they're blue in the face and still never succeed in convincing any fan of the genre that the movie is more than a derivative piece of work, pulled from decades of superior zombie films that went before.  If the movie lived up to its marketing campaign, it may have actually been worthy of multiple viewings at premium price. As it stands, 28 Days Later is hardly worth a trip to the dollar theater.

The film begins with a few well-meaning animal rights folks breaking into a lab to liberate caged chimps.  They are unwilling to listen to warnings that the chimps have been infected with "rage," and that letting them out could prove to be the end of society.  One of the activists opens up a cage, is attacked by a hostile monkey, and infected with the "rage" virus.  She proceeds to vomit up blood on anyone unfortunate enough to get within spitting distance of her.  And so it begins ...

Flash-forward 28 days, to some hospitalized naked dude awakening into a nightmare world.  No one is tending to him, and the last person to help the guy out forgot that humans generally prefer to wake up in the ICU wearing some form of clothing.  The bewildered patient is a bicycle courier named Jim (Cillian Murphy), who had been in a coma for the past month.  He's in pretty good shape, and is able to walk, run and drink lots of Pepsi products, immediately upon waking. 

Jim wanders the hospital halls, and then stops for about 30 seconds to guzzle down a can of Pepsi.  He does a bit more wandering, and then stops in front of a Pepsi machine.  There are tons of other products placed in the film, but it is Pepsi that really stands out.  28 Days Later ... And All that Remains is Pepsi

After drinking Pepsi, and looking at Pepsi machines, and passing a few more Pepsi signs, Jim makes his way outdoors.  He enters a barren London.  He stops at a chilling wall of remembrance for those lost to the virus, and then makes his way into a church.  Our heroic bike courier reads a warning spray-painted on a church wall claiming that the "end is extremely fucking nigh." He disregards it, and walks deeper into the darkened cathedral.   

Jim's story has been captivating, up to this point.  20 minutes into the picture, and Danny Boyle owns the audience.  But the introduction is nothing but a false promise.  Within minutes of Jim encountering the first of the "infecteds," it becomes obvious that 28 Days Later isn't going to scare anyone other than the horror amateur.  And its "cut-and-paste" plot is going to piss off any zombie connoisseur, once they see scenes from all of their favorite zombie films Xeroxed into this movie. 

What part of "zombie horror" did Danny Boyle "reinvent" with 28 Days Later?  There is a shopping scene which is a shameless steal from George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead.  There is a military group with a zombie held captive by a metal leash and collar wrapped around his neck.  The entire subplot featuring the crazed military and the captured zombie borders on intellectual theft, as it is nearly a duplicate of the Bud the Zombie subplot, featured in George A. Romero's Day of the Dead.

Did Boyle "reinvent" zombie horror by making the zombies move fast? If you're familiar with Return of the Living Dead, you'll be "quick" to note that the zombies moved at great speeds in the 1985 film.  All that's really new here are glowing red eyes and Pepsi product placements.  If you consider that "reinvention," then Boyle truly "reinvents the zombie horror film."  

28 Days Later will be hailed by many critics, for the same reasons that The Blair Witch Project received undue praise, when it was released in 1999.  Like The Blair Witch Project, 28 Days Later is a sub par horror movie wrapped up in "arthouse" trappings.  It's a nice looking picture that comes off as more "important" than the average horror flick.  In reality, 28 Days Later is an overlong horror film with next to no scares and nothing new to add to the zombie genre.  It will inevitably be forgotten by the time the next "respectable" horror film is released and overrated. 

Endnote:  My original review for 28 Days Later ran over 2,000 words.  I tried explaining the many problems with this film, but discovered that there was no way to address the numerous plot holes without giving away the entire movie.  I will place one quote from the old review here, which sums it up nicely:  "28 Days Later has so many holes in its plot, I'd swear Alex Garland shot up his script with an Uzi, before turning in the final draft."

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Text (Copyright) 2003 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].