US Release Date: 06-27-2003
Directed by: Danny Boyle
- Cillian Murphy, as
- Naomie Harris, as
- Megan Burns, as
- Brendan Gleeson, as
- Christopher Eccleston, as
- Maj. Henry West
- Stuart McQuarrie, as
- Sergeant Farrell
- Luke Mably as
- Private Clifton
Cillian Murphy in 28 Days Later.
A cross between The Omega Man and Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later is a great action/horror movie. Unlike most of the post-Scream horror movies, this one takes itself seriously and isn't poking fun of the genre. It's an old school end-of-the-world apocalyptic thriller with originality and scares galore.
The movie opens with a group of animal-rights activists breaking into a labratory. Despite the lab technician's pleas to not release the animals as they are all infected with a highly contagious disease, the activists open a cage. The animals immediately begin attacking.
Cut to 28 days later where Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma in a hospital in London. The hospital is deserted. He wanders outside where again he finds no one. He walks the streets looking for some sign of what has happened and eventually wanders into a church. Corpses are piled through out the building. Two of the corpses sit up when they hear him move. A door opens and the Vicar enters, his eyes blood-red, he is twitching and violent. Jim hits him once then turns and runs. All of the corpses rise and begin chasing him.
Jim is rescued by a man and a woman who drive his attackers back with Molotov cocktails. They take him to an empty shop where they tell him about the disease and how it has spread across the country. Anyone bitten or infected by the blood or saliva of anyone who is already infected becomes infected themselves in a matter of seconds, making them single-mindedly violent. Before the radios went dead there were reports of infections in New York and Paris. There is no way of knowing what's going on in the rest of the world.
The group soon hook up with Frank and his daughter Hannah, two other uninfected survivors. Frank has a radio that has picked up a signal from Manchester. An Army unit is calling all survivors together with the promise of a cure for the infection. With no other choice, the little band decide to pile into Frank's taxi and head North where they discover that their greatest enemy isn't the infected, but the other survivors.
Visually this movie has a distinct style. It was filmed on Digital Video, which gives the movie a blurry and unclear look that does take some getting used to. Although about 20 minutes into it, I accepted the look as part of the movie world, I do question the decision to film it this way. It is artistic I suppose, and suggests a 'Day After' feeling, but I don't think it would have hurt the movie, and might have even improved it if it had been filmed on actual film. The pictures accompanying this review do not show this style, they are much clearer than they appear in the movie.
The cast are all capable, but mostly unknown British actors. The suspense is superb and masterfully done. At the beginning of the film as Jim wanders the empty and silent streets of London he accidentally sets off a car alarm. The anticipation is so well set up that even this normal occurrence caused the audience to jump. The first half of the movie in London is definitely the best portion of the film and the creepiest.
A great movie and one that is destined to become a classic of the genre, or at least a cult one.
Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris in 28 Days Later.
In today's world of overblown, F/X driven blockbusters it's always a nice surprise to discover a truly successful and well-crafted small budget movie like 28 Days Later. Made for less than a well-spent 5 million dollars, 28 Days Later does a remarkable job at creating a deserted London. I agree with Scott that the first half of the movie is the creepiest and the car alarm moment actually made me jump in my seat
Like the George Romero zombie movies from twenty years ago, 28 Days Later relishes its gory moments. The set up of the plot however, especially in this day and age of SARS, makes this movie far more plausible, and therefore scarier. Another frightening aspect is the fact that the 'infected' are not awkward, lumbering ghouls but more like psychotic killers that can sprint like Carl Lewis. The scene in the tunnel is one of the most intensely scary moments in any horror movie.
The action shifts into high gear once the group reaches what - they think - will be the safe haven of the military compound. The director is able to elevate the already tightly drawn tension by showing us the evil that men do and philosophizing about our place in nature, although thankfully not in the pretentious manner of The Matrix movies. From here the movie builds to a full-blast climax that will satisfy any action/violence junkies without losing the sense of realism that has been so carefully cultivated.
I think the cast does a first rate job and I won't be surprised if Cillian Murphy becomes a big star. He effortlessly carries this movie on his shoulders.
Given the theme and nature of this movie it is clearly not for everyone. Be forewarned that it is an intensely gripping and gritty, violence filled horror movie. Not recommended for the squeamish.
My one problem is with the ending. I won't give it away but it seems like something is missing. I hope there are a few deleted scenes that will show up later on the DVD. With or without them 28 Days Later succeeds admirably.
This movie is truly disturbing on several levels.
28 Days Later scared the shit out of me! Not so much as I watched it, but after, when I left the theater. I looked at the faces of strangers leaving and thought how frightening it would be if even one of them was infected. This movie is truly disturbing on several levels.
The first scene is one of the funniest I have seen this year in a movie. These arrogant, know it all animal rights wackos, in their zealousness to be holier than thou, end up destroying an entire country in their all important effort to liberate a few monkeys. Okay, it is dark humor, but I have met animal rights activist and they are always so self righteous that I couldn't help but find humor in that.
The movie then goes to a nude scene.
The audience gets the full Monty of Jim as he awakens from his coma. According to an interview with Murphy, the scene is supposed to be symbolic of Jim's rebirth. Director, Danny Boyle, has a thing for showing his actors penises. Boyle directed Trainspotting where Ewan McGregor's uncut member gets screen time as well.
As my brothers already wrote, this movie is violent and scary. Philosophically it gets a bit deep without losing the fun. Everyone infected with this disease is filled with rage to the point of killing. Later we find that uninfected people can get to that same point of rage through frustration and desperation. How many horror films have ever left you thinking?
Like Patrick, though, I hoped for a more conclusive ending. Had the disease actually spread? The slightly ambiguous ending is this film's only flaw.
Photos © Copyright Fox Searchlight (2003)