REVIEW SUMMARY: A better ‘zombie’ movie than most, but not without flaws.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A man wakes up in a London hospital after being in a coma for 28 days to find that a rage-causing virus has turned humanity into rampaging zombies.
PROS: Director Danny Boyle’s running and jumping zombies are much scarier than your standard shambling undead. I found that I really cared about the characters.
CONS: I tend to scrutinize movies like this for plot holes. The holes here aren’t large enough to detract from my enjoyment of the film, but it seems they could have been easily fixed.
BOTTOM LINE: Scary As Hell? Probably not, but darned scary nonetheless.
I’ve been a fan of zombie stories since I first saw Night of the Living Dead. Granted, most of them haven’t impressed me like NotLD. In fact the genre seems to have gone almost completely camp, and rather than try to frighten audiences, the movies go for gross-out or comedy. Sometimes this is effective (Dead Alive), but most times it is not.
28 Days Later was billed as the ‘reinvented zombie movie’. In fact, the zombies in 28 Days aren’t zombies at all, in the classic sense. They’re not the walking dead, but rather rage-infected living, hell-bent on destroying anything living that is not infected. And they’re not mindless, shambling idiots. In their crazed single-mindedness to destroy they run, climb and claw their way toward their victims. I gotta admit, in that aspect the zombies were a lot scarier than in other films.
And for once there are characters we care about. The film focuses on a handful of people, following them from London to Manchester, where they hope to find a military complex containing the last vestiges of humanity. I found myself really pulling for these characters, and feeling badly when any of them, how shall I say, expired.
Overall the movie was quite scary. There are several edge-of-your seat moments, including one where the group races to change a tire before the hoard of rampaging infected catches them.
Helping add to the suspense was a killer soundtrack that started slow and wound up to a fevered pitch as the action built.
There were some minor problems, however. As an example, at the beginning of the film the main character, who’s been in a coma for 28 days, picks up a newspaper who’s headline tells of London’s evacuation. Does the article interest him enough to read on and learn about the zombie scourge? No, he apparently didn’t want to spoil the surprise of running into the zombies first-hand.
And why do the characters insist on confronting the zombies with knives and bats instead of ranged weapons? I played enough Resident Evil games to know that the assault rifle is the weapon of choice against undead.
Overall I give the movie 4 stars out of 5.