28 DAYS LATER —-well-directed, well-reviewed and a hit, this 2002 horror film from director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland gets “credit”—or blame, depending on your proclivities for relentless goop and merciless slaughter—along with Resident Evil, for breathing fresh foul life into the Zombie Genre, bringing on the concept of “zombie apocalypse”. Genuinely creepy until the halfway point, when it bogs into a different kind of threat-as-thrill trap and kills itself off by turning coarse, ugly and vicious. Like high school.
Waking from a bike crash accident, a young man finds himself in an abandoned hospital, in a wreck-strewn, emptied out London. Meeting a handful of suspicious people, they inform him there has been a viral plague, infecting people in a matter of seconds with a murderous rage. The survivors hope to escape the city and link with ‘salvation’ promised by a radio signal coming from Manchester. When they get there (losing a few en route) they find safety with a squad of soldiers is a cruel ruse.
Nihilism rains, blood sprays, lazy profanity ultimately drowns cleverness. The acting is fine, but only one character is likable (Brendan Gleeson) and of course he’s not going to make it. Instead of the traditional slow-moving voodoo-creatures of the old days or the shambling ghouls from Night Of The Living Dead, the Boyle-Garland zombies move at full tilt, amping up the chase rhythms and pulse pounding. An understated score (John Murphy) and slick cinematography (Anthony Dod Mantle) do their part. The tunnel sequence is a winner.
All goes well, until the last third, with the rape-intent soldiers replacing the manic undead as the chief immediate threat. The sexual violation angle spins the film into a different, needless realm of darkness. A line (naturally repeated) near the end sums it up: “It’s all fucked.”
With Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Megan Burns, Noah Huntley and Stuart McQuarrie. 113 minutes. Done for an efficient $8,000,000, it found the right audience and gobbled $84,700,000 and a higher-body-count sequel. I can embrace the chills, and deal with the gore, within reason, but I’ll take a pass on the incidental punishment aspect. Film is quite well-regarded.