Wednesday, September 16, 2009

27 Days of Fright (The Reprint) - Day Thirteen

Originally Published Saturday 18th October 2008

28 Weeks Later

Last night’s movie has the dubious honour of being the first sequel out of the 27 that make up this little project. Sequels can sometimes surprise, if you look at Empire Strikes Back or Aliens you will find movies that are better than the original. Look at films like Blade or Robocop or The Matrix and you will be disappointed with the follow ups. Unlike most sequels 28 Weeks Later does not pick up the story where we left off and none of the original characters are in this film.

Instead we return to a devastated Britain, as the title suggests, 28 Weeks Later, to find the country quarantined from the rest of the world. A NATO force, led by the US, is securing the country and leading the repopulation effort. British refugees are slowly being returned home to a safe zone called “District One” in the London Docklands. Two children Tammy and her brother Andy are among a group moving to District 1 where they are reunited with their father Don, played by Robert Carlyle, who is working as a sort of caretaker in District 1.

The kids soon break out of District 1 in order to visit their old house where they discover that their mother is still alive, though in a bit of a rough state. At the start of the film we see Don abandoning his wife to a group of infected in order to save himself and with her return he is forced to face up to his guilt, especially as he had lied to his kids about what had happened to their poor old mum. Don’s trouble and strife is not a normal survivor, she is infected with the Rage virus but as a carrier as opposed to a full on zombie type. She infects Don who develops the full symptoms and promptly goes around infecting and killing all round him.

The soldiers try to contain the outbreak but are quickly overwhelmed and are forced to begin killing indiscriminately, infected and healthy civilians alike. The kids escape this horror with the aid of a sniper who couldn’t bring himself to kill Andy when ordered and the lead medical officer. Trying to escape district 1 is made all the harder and more urgent when the big cheese orders that the place be totally destroyed to contain the infection. Some infected get out and give chase to the small group of survivors who are trying to rendezvous with a helicopter that can get them to safety.


28 Weeks Later is a great sequel because of how it left the original behind and because of the overall concept of the movie - that is dealing with the repopulation effort. Here we see how other countries would react to a situation like mass plague that kills an entire population, especially in the absence of anything like a government or anyone else in a position of authority. The second outbreak is predictable but necessary; it’s a zombie movie (kinda) after all! This time out we see even more of London as an abandoned ghost town and those scenes are incredibly well presented.

The inclusion of American actors gives the movie a fresh angle, but there are no significant big names – Robert Carlyle is probably the most recognisable face. The two kids make for believable victims of an awful situation but the inclusion of children in no way leads to the action or gore being toned down, this film like its predecessor doesn’t pull any punches.

Two thumbs up for 28 Weeks Later!

28 Weeks Later is one of the films I've had a chance to view again. All in all my opinion hasn't changed though I did notice that, like the original, there are moments of varying quality in terms of cinematography. I'm guessing that the director copied the original movies style very very closely as 28 Weeks seems to have mixed HD video with analogue film stock. At one point (when the civilians are getting exposed to the virus in the basement) you can see a flaw in the film run down the right hand side of the screen, a flaw so obvious it may have been put in deliberately to give the scene a documentary feel, like you're watching actual footage. The varying types of photography really only become apparent if you're watching on HD but, unlike 28 Days Later, don't distract from the action.

My two thumbs remain up!

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