“… creates a scenario that feels very real.”
28 Days Later is a movie that is interesting because, despite being almost 15 years old, it still sparks discussions (or arguments) to this day. These arguments are usually pertaining to whether or not 28 Days Later is a zombie movie. There are valid arguments on both sides, but that is not what I’m going to discuss today because I write movie reviews, not investigations.
So the film stars Sandra Bullock and is about a successful New York writer living in the fast lane when — Wait, that’s not right…
28 Days Later is about the spread of a virus that takes over (seemingly) all of Britain in 28 days. The film follows Jim, a bicycle courier who was in a coma during this outbreak, who wakes up to a completely deserted London. Of course that is until he gets attacked by a number of already infected humans that try their damnedest to kill him. The rest of the movie follows Jim and a few other people as they attempt to survive whatever it is that is happening.
Now we could argue whether or not these infected people are zombies, but despite what you (or I) may think I do classify 28 Days Later as a zombie film. So if I address it as such later in this review, don’t be upset. Or do. I can’t tell you how to feel.
So what strikes me as brilliant about 28 Days Later is, even after all of this time and multiple viewings, the film still scares the shit out of me. It accomplishes this in many ways but I think a large part of it is because the film presents itself as calm (deserted streets, very quiet sounds), until all of a sudden its not. By that I mean this film is fast. Everything from the infected people to the camera work to the editing is all fast paced. This means that you could be minding your own business in a house, and then in a blink of an eye two infected will be on top of you fighting as hard as they can to kill you, and more infected are on the way. This is what is so scary about the situation, and the film; you never ever feel safe. And I’m not even in the situation! I’m just some dude sitting at home watching a movie and I’m shaking in fear.
One issue, really the only issue, that I have with 28 Days Later is the appearance of the film. I would be lying if I didn’t say that this film is pretty much the definition of amateur. I know that Danny Boyle is an accomplished filmmaker, and this is far from his first film, but 28 Days Later is like a film school project. The film looks awful, the sounds are terrible, the sound mixing is awful, it just exudes this essence of amateur. Of course this works both against, and in favour of, the film the because it is really a testament to how good it is that audiences will look past the thin layer of shit smeared across the lens. Of course it can be argued (and hell, I even feel this a bit) that the amateur feel helps make the film feel real. There is nothing over the top about the presentation, it is very gritty and that may make some people love it more. I definitely get where that’s coming from, I just wish that the film would have been a bit more polished is all.
Of course the look of the film, like I mentioned, doesn’t hide the brilliance that is 28 Days Later. The direction is truly phenomenal, as is the editing. The score is great; the sombre rock ballad not only fits the tone of the film, but it also fits the time period of the film as well. The acting is amazing. Every character does a really good job at making you either love, or hate, them. And the acting of the infected is nothing short of brilliant, with the twitchy, unpredictable movements and unbridled anger behind the eyes. The effects are, even though very sparse, good. The look of the infected is simple, yet terrifying; and the larger action set pieces don’t look out of place. Really 28 Days Later is just a solid horror film.
Ultimately 28 Days Later is a fucking terrifying look at a terrifying scenario. With brilliant writing, acting, and direction 28 Days Later creates a scenario that feels very real.
I give 28 Days Later an A