28 Weeks Later
28 DAYS LATER. 2002
Director: Danny Boyle

28 WEEKS LATER. 2007
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

Director: Alex Meyer

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

28 Days Later The word "zombies" is nowhere used in 28 Days Later (2002), but essentially it is a zombie movie, though so original as to rise far above that often-terrible sub-genre of horror.

As the story opens, animal rights activists are breaking into a laboratory where chimpanzees are kept in horrific circumstances. In the course of liberating the abused animals, they unleash an experimental virus that induces mindless rage within ten to twenty seconds of exposure.

Twenty-eight days later a young man, Jim, awakens from a coma in an abandoned hospital & discovers the world has come to an end. Or, at least, all of England has.

Jim is played by Cillian Murphy, an unknown at the time, but since playing the Scarecrow in Batman Begins (2005) his career is off like a shot.

He soon meets two other survivors who save him from a rage-zombie attack by being well-prepared with molatov cocktails & other fiery explosives. This couple never again exhibit any knowledge of fire-gags, but hey, already the film is so good that any lapses of internal logic aren't going to ruin it.

28 Days LaterThese are not slow shambling zombies easy to get away from. Infected people become violently enraged animalistic predators that move at top speed. If you get even one drop of their blood in your mouth or in a cut or in your eyes, you will turn into a rage-zombie immediately.

Nevertheless, rarely wearing protective gear that would keep bloodspatters from getting all over everyone's face, zombies are bashed with baseball bat, hacked with machete, & everyone's always getting completely covered in blood, but only infected when infection is required as plot device.

That's another of those lapses in logic that we the viewers have to continuously overlook in order to be amazed by how original & well-acted this is -- far, far, far from perfectection, but as no-budget zombie flicks go, this one almost qualifies as intellectual.

The first half of the film comes off as a decently done cheapo remake of Omega Man (1971). But by the time our main characters reach a tiny enclave of well-armed soldiers whose main goal in life is to find women or little girls to rape (as otherwise surviving is not worthwhile) the story faulters a lot. The whole psycho military shtick is a never as interesting as the earlier part of the film.

It loses some of its charm when it becomes less Omega Man & more of a story about getting away from the rapist soldiers. But as uninfected humans kill uninfected humans, there certainly is an irony that the rage-virus isn't necessary for people to become homicidal maniacs.

The original script had a stupid ending (outlined in the DVD extras) requiring a complete exchange of blood to save one character at sacrifice of another. When it was realized an otherwise nice script ended foolishly, it seems the new ending including everything about the military rapists was written & shot hastily, & thus comes off as an afterthought.

In one scene our hero has to climb over a barbed wire fence & has to use his shirt to get over the wire. We don't see how he took the shirt off, but when he drops shirtless to the other side of the wall, his hands are still tied. This kind of silly lapse seems to be the result of inattentiveness & haste in finishing up the film.

Nevertheless, though requiring continuous forgiveness for the mistakes it makes, the level of acting & the quality of direction is simply heads & tails above anything lately encountered in zombie flicks, as might be expected from the brilliant director of Trainspotting (1996) & Shallow Grave (1994).

28 Weeks Later The sequel 28 Weeks Later (2007) alas shares all of the faults of the original but lacks the element of amazement in having rethought the whole zombie mythos as instant-transformation & swift of foot.

Concievably, faults & all, the original will remain a film of historical consequence for the history of horror cinema. The sequel will much more probably always be just the sequel.

Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, the young director of Intacto (2001), thus far in his directing career lacks the sharpness & originality of Danny Boyle, in whose shoes he walks for this sequel. Nevertheless, the long opening sequence isn't bad & boded for a better film than actually developed.

Robert Carlisle as Don shows understandable cowardice when the small group of uninfected are detected & the killing begins anew. He abandons his wife Alice (Catherine McCormack) & then must come to terms with having left her to be bitten & infected.

Six months pass after the rage virus's initial released, & somehow Don survived. The infected had by now killed everyone they could reach, & subsequently died of starvation. The virus died out with them.

England having been successfully quaranteened, it really seems the threat to the human race has ended. American soldiers arrive in Britain to oversee "reconstruction." Don shows up at the American enclave in London & is reunited with his son & daughter (Shahid Ahmed & Amanda Walker) who had spent the duration in a refugee camp in Spain & are now repatriated.

28 Weeks LaterDon's account to his children of how their mother died leaves out his own cowardice, so they are rather angry with him when they discover their mother is alive.

Although infected, Alice has not succumbed to the rage, & scientists believe her blood (a la Omega Man) may carry the secret for a vaccine.

When Don & Alice are reunited, she infects him, he kills her, & the virus begins as it did before, spreading like wildfire. The rest of the film is about explosions & gunfire & the military fiasco of killing everyone in sight, infected or not, & even so faililng utterly to stop the spread.

There's a chance, but only a chance, that one or both of Alice's offspring have the same secret of a vaccine locked in their blood. So there'll be an attempt to save them from the rage-zombies & from the crazily murderous military. This part of the story is never developed, however, & may be only a set-up for an intended second sequel 28 Months Later.

In common with the first film, the fascination for soldierly insanity detracts from the idea of swift, strong, enraged zombies, & makes the film louder but less interesting. The last third of 28 Weeks Later is non-stop killing & zombie slaying & gunfire & who the phuck even cares.

The lengthy battle within the American zone of London is way too much like an el cheapo version of the Resident Evil idea of putting 'em in an enclosed area & letting the blood packs explode.

Really only one of the militaristic moments works, & that's the visual of a tipped helicoptor close to the ground with its blades skimming along like a vegematic through a herd of zombies. That had pure exploitation enthusiasm, but not much else did.

Imbedded in all the noisy dullness are scant hints of a story, as infected Don keeps surviving the military's bombs & blazes & gunfire & is coming after his kids to eat them, but has glints of who he once was. This is very close to the only spark of a story, but it's inadequately developed.

Yet even as a disappointment, the viewer may wish to think of what cheap zombie movies are usually like -- which is to say, completely retarded -- & give up any hope of having a groundbreaking film like 28 Days Later. The fact that 28 Weeks is well-acted would alone put it miles ahead of the genre's standard.

There's every intimation of a forthcoming 28 Months Later in which all Europe becomes infected. I look forward to it with a shrug.

28 Minutes Later A quarter-hour short film, 28 Minutes Later (2008) is a title many amateur film makers have lit upon as "original" in making their own fast-moving zombie films to post on youtube. It is indicative of the degree of imagination involved that one or two dozen would-be filmmakers lit upon the same attempt at being witty.

Two young men are dicking around the house. When they see a zombie hissing at the back door, they get a couple baseball bats & wack on him without good enough choreography to make it look like anyone got hit.

Additional zombies show up, so the two guys grab the pistol & rifle from the case under the bed & prepare for a zombie shoot. They drive over to a couple pals' house, & they have their guns out too.

From the barn loft, one of the guys begins shooting people running across a field, fast-zombies we may suppose though if they weren't, too bad for them. The zombie shoot continues through the night, though mostly we just see guys firing from the barn. Come morning two of them set out to get more ammo, which they find sitting on the floor in the middle of a shed, where most rednecks keep their ammo I guess.

They pretend-hit another swift zombie without touching him. The complete lack of choreographic skill pretty much reduces all action moments to laughable without being funny.

This little film is so awful but the players are so straightfaced about it, I kept expecting a pay-off, & I figured I could make it through the remaining five minutes. Surprise-surprise, it was already almost over at ten minutes, with no payoff at all.

But after the credits role, there's a "blooper" section, as if the whole film hadn't been a blooper. It's mildly funny mainly because it's speeded up & everyone sounds like chipmunks. There's no sense that these kids will grow up to make real movies, but who the hell knows, it doesn't take that much talent nowadays.

28 Minutes Later The sequel, 28 Minutes Later Part 2 (2008) "writen" [sic] and directed by Alex Meyer, clocks in at about seventeen minutes.

It's set on "the 56th day" which is apparently their biggest joke. Music from the original film is "borrowed" as we watch through the windshield a driver & passenger going through an empty town. Nothing happens.

They arrive at a house where several cars are parked & a boat on its trailer. Still nothing happens. Hey kids, this film is only seventeen minutes, shouldn't something happen sooner than this?

One guy has a knife, another has a plastic rifle. They wander about & before the fifth minute they hear a sound. Finally they see a zombie then three more zombies & have a zombie-shoot. A couple more guys saunter by dressed a bit like survivalists, & yet another guy arrives with a truck. "Okay lets go" one of 'em says & they pile into the back of the pick-up as if they had a plan, which they didn't.

Since filming Part 1, the director has gotten a little better a videography, but that's not saying much. After all the preparation to get together for something, the guys just drive to another house & go in the garage & have some chit-chat.

That night zombies arrive & they shoot at them in the dark. Then they drive somewhere else in a van, where nothing happens, then drive somewhere else with fast zombies running behind them.

They take refuge in "the tunnels" where survivors hide out from zombies. Looks like another garage rather than a tunnel. More chit-chat. At a bit over elven minutes it ends, with promise of a third chapter to come. The remaining four or five minutes is again called "Bloopers" & consists of random extra footage with chipmunk voices.

Continue to a mess of zombie shorts:
Afternoon of the Dead, etc.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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