Friday, October 16, 2015

28 Days Later (2002)

A bunch of dumdums "liberate" monkeys from an animal testing lab and set a contagious "rage" virus free in the process.  Then this dude wakes up in the hospital with no one else around.  Instead of racing wheelchairs down the halls, he ventures out and meets up with other survivors who are trying to survive in a world full of running zombies infected.


This was released two years before the remade Dawn of the Dead, but feels like a lesser test run in a lot of ways.  Dawn adopted this film's frenetic pacing, but upped the ante on its character work. 28 Days only starts caring around characters once we meet this young girl and her dad.  Here he is, at the store where my mom used to buy me cups and dishes in lieu of toys.


That really happened, by the way.  The protagonist of this movie and his new pals are paper-thin in terms of human relationships.  The movie tries, tossing dead parents at us while sad music plays, but nothing sticks until girl and her quirky dad come along.  But then there's a diversion into Army territory well before the film's end and all that sympathetic character-building is lost.


What's left is basically an action movie in which the gymnastically aggressive infected and Army dickbags take the place of communists, terrorists, or evil ninjas.  I especially love the ninja analogy, given how much sprinting and leaping the "monsters" here do.  28 Days borrows much of its zombie plot from the original Dawn and Day, with the later evil-military stuff literally coming off like they got some professor to figure Day times 28 and output the results into this script.


Danny Boyle's a good director and it all looks good, except that the camera quivers a lot, and it's exciting while you're watching it, but it didn't feel as satisfying as I wanted in the end.  Outperformed by both Dawn remake and 30 Days of Night, which surprisingly handles the whole constant-danger thing far better than this movie.


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