28 Days Later (2002)

Film review: 28 Days Later (2002), directed by Danny Boyle

28dayslaterFor someone who isn’t into zombie films, I seem to have watched a fair few of them over the past year. The latest one is 28 Days Later, but I have an excuse. We went to a zombie themed birthday party – we dressed up as zombies and watched a zombie film in the city. Actually, the Squeeze went as someone who had been bitten but hadn’t turned yet, and his fake blood around the head was so convincing a couple of people actually stopped him to ask if he was okay! 🙂 I went as a zombie hunter, armed with a blood-stained stick of wood. By the way, if you want to make fake blood, mix golden syrup with red food colouring and some cocoa powder (to make it darker). It’s really sticky and quite tasty …

Anyway.

The film opens in an animal research lab, where some animal rights activists break in, in order to set the chimpanzees free. Because I feel very strongly about animals, seeing these wonderful beings trapped in small perspex cages was awful, but I kept thinking “it’s a film, they don’t actually have to live in there”. A scientist discovers the activists and pleads with them to not let the chimps out – they’re infected with a virus that spreads through blood and saliva. Of course, his pleas fall on deaf ears and a chimp is set free … only to viciously attack one of the would-be rescuers.

Fade to black.

Four weeks (i.e. the eponymous 28 days) later, a man – Jim (Cillian Murphy) – wakes up in a London hospital bed. He discovers that the hospital is deserted, as is the city itself. Something has obviously happened. These “somethings” come to attack him, and he finds himself rescued by a couple of people. One of them being a woman called Selena (Naomie Harris). They fill him in on what has happened, namely that a vicious virus broke out, and the whole of the UK has been evacuated.

Jim and Selena end up finding a man (Brendan Gleeson – whom my internal monologue spent the entire moving saying “is that Brendan Gleeson? Kinda looks like him, but I’m not sure it is. Is it? Maybe not. Or … maybe, I dunno” and so on until it was confirmed in the credits) and his ~13-year-old daughter (Megan Burns), and together, they set off oop North to try and find a gathering of soldiers, whose message they’ve heard over the radio, saying they can offer protection and a cure to other survivors.

Shhh … we’re hunting zombies!

And so it turns into a roadmovie, until the soldiers are found. They’re headed by Christopher Eccleston, and that’s a guy I seem to have seen a lot recently. I reacted with an internal “oooh! Christopher Eccleston, yay!” before I realised that actually, I’m not that keen on him, so quit with the excitement already. I rather liked Sergeant Farrell (Stuart McQuarrie) as it happened. Seemed to be a decent fellow amongst … a bunch of savages. What could possibly be worse – being ravaged by hungry zombies or by randy soldiers?

The last bit there was rather disturbing to watch as a female. Partly because they were seriously wanting to have extremely wicked ways with an underaged girl and partly because the adult woman was doing the right thing in the circumstances and tried to get them to take her instead, to protect the girl. Chilling reminder of the sort of things women have had to go through over the course of history.

If you’re into Cillian Murphy, you get to ogle parts of him I had no desire to ogle whatsoever. As in, when he wakes up in the hospital bed, he’s stark bollock naked. Oh yes, we’re not talking boiler suit shots here, we’re talking full frontal nudity. Problem is, I completely lack a Cillian Murphy attraction. It’s more of an aversion, if anything, even though he’s a good enough actor and everything. Just can’t stand the sight of him! So I’m afraid the opening shot was a bit lost on me. 😉 Murphy fans, however, can ogle his anatomy in all its bony detail for all they like.

Overall, it wasn’t too gory, compared with some other films. Not scary either. More a movie about survival rather than just cheap shocks. Thought the shots of a deserted London were very poignant. It’s so odd and unusual to see it void of any human life that those images in themselves are disconcerting. Anyway, it wasn’t perhaps the most enjoyable of films as such, as we’ve already established zombie flicks aren’t my cuppa tea, but it was definitely a good movie nonetheless. And considering we saw it in the company of friends dressed up as zombies, in the smallest cinema in the world, you can’t really go wrong. 🙂 (Note to self: Book place for own birthday party in summer and show a non-zombie film!)

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