In Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, a gypsy tells Jonathan Harker that “the dead travel fast.” When you see HOW fast the zombies are in this film, you’ll believe it.
Jim (Cillian Murphy) awakens in a hospital room completely unattended. He finds his way out and steals a uniform, but there’s no one around to stop him. The phones are out, the electric is off, and all of London, England is silent. Jim’s cries receive no answer, and as evidence of a horrible apocalypse is strewn about everywhere, he starts to piece together the terrible events that began twenty-eight days earlier…
It can only be coincidence that, with the exception of a minor prologue, “28 Days Later” begins almost exactly where last year’s “Resident Evil” left off. There’s been a catastrophe and the city isn’t quite as deserted as one would hope, especially with no weapons and no clue. Worse yet, no one is sure how widespread the disaster is, making each decision to survive not only a moral one but a legal one as well. Over three distinct acts, a different aspect of humanity is put on a pedestal, pointed at and laughed at, then shot down to put up another. Ripley from “Aliens” said it best when she told Burke, “You don’t see them (screwing) each other over for a goddamn percentage!”
Storywise, this film also draws an eerie parallel to last year’s “Reign of Fire.” The beginning shows how a disaster starts, followed by a fast-forward to where things are now, a ray of hope being offered, an ultimate confrontation followed by an upbeat epilogue. Where the two differ, however, is that “Reign” concentrated more on the dragons but didn’t show them in proportion to all the fuss was made about them; “28 Days Later” is about survival and humanity, so the zombies don’t have to be around so much as to just be a constant threat. It’s the age-old difference between an adventure and a drama: if you can fix it, it’s an adventure, but if all you can do is deal with it, it’s a drama. While “Reign” fell short as an epic adventure, “28 Days” is right on the money for a drama.
“Trainspotting” director Danny Boyle (who detoured his indie film career to direct “The Beach” with Leo DiCaprio) returned to his roots for this low-budget thriller. Hailed as a reinvention of the zombie film, Boyle has actually reinvented the zombies to be more beserkers than lumbering corpses, and you can time the moment of initial infection to full-fledged killing machine with a stopwatch. So, if you’re up to seeing the worst humanity has to offer AND blood-in-their-eye beserker zombies running the heroes down, “28 Days Later” has what you’re looking for.
(a three and a half skull recommndation out of four)