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Imagine one day you wake up in a world that at one point, seemed so familiar, but is now completely distorted and empty. Jim wakes up to this reality only to discover that the reason behind this change is a result of an infectious disease brought on by rage and it is putting the existence of humanity at stake. Not only is Jim faced with a fear of becoming infected, but a fear of staying alive as well.
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A group of animal activists have broken into a science lab with the intentions of freeing a number of orangutans being experimented upon. As they investigate the area, they are bombarded with the frantic screams of their homosepian counter-parts and are in utter shock and awe of the experimental pain they endure. What they don't seem to realize is that that “pain” is actually a disease in the blood induced by rage. Unfortunately for the group of activists, this was soon realized upon opening one of the cages where the orangutan proceeded to attack one of the unsuspecting activists. Moments after, the victim of the attack begins to spew blood and transform into a rabid, flesh hungry zombie. It's at this point we see the legacy of the human race at stake and the rise of the “infected”.
Four months later, we are introduced to Jim (Cillian Murphy), a bike courier, who awakens after being in a coma cold, naked and alone in a hospital bed. Perhaps waking up alone and naked in a strange place is just a regular day for some, but for Jim, he had woken up at probably the worst possible moment ever – the end of the world. As he wanders his way through the hospital and onto the London City streets the signs of chaos and despair become more and more evident. Cars are seen parked askew on the street, signs with faces of people who’s lives have been claimed are plastered on memorial boards in such high volume that they overlap one another. The only thing that hasn't really changed is the city trash garnishing the streets. At least at a time of despair, trash will always remain consistent.
Jim's surveillance of the town nearly lands him in the grasp of the infected but upon fleeing for his life, he is salvaged by two other survivors of the rage plague; Selena (played by Naomi Harris) and Mark (a brief role played by Noah Huntley). Together, they explain to Jim how the lives of many have been claimed by a blood virus that claimsthe life of another and transforms them into violent cannibals. The number of survivors is few if not, non-existent, and those who do survive stand a slim chance of living anyways. Unfortunately, Selena sticks to her bad-ass, zero tolerance rules and ends up performing one of the coldest exterminations ever witnessed on Mark after a sudden attack by the infected.
Jim and Selena continue their search for survivors “sans” Mark and find their way to an apartment building signaled by a balcony lit with blinking Christmas lights. They take the risk and manage to dodge the throngs of infected people to find themselves face to face with a father and daughter team, Frank and Hannah (played by Brendan Gleesonand Megan Burns). Frank is enthralled by the visitors and insists on celebrating with his past wife's crème du menthe (which, judging by its gummy lid could have been from 1975). The awkward celebratory drink seemed to act as an unofficial pact between the groups for after hearing a radio announcement about an army survival camp, they decide to take the journey together in Frank's cab, taking whatever they can find and mercilessly running over rage-induced zombies that cross their path.
The journey to the survival camp ends up in triumph, but also in despair. Who knew the camp would be run by an army with no sense of morale? Because THAT is totally unrealistic! Yet again, another film that demonstrates not to trust authorities that use their weapons like a stain remover to soiled shirt: “Did a little bit of pickpocket land your purse? No worries miss, nothing a little sawed off shot gun can’t handle!. The “threat” in their path in this instance is Jim of course; meanwhile Hannah and Selena are the reward. The women are held captive and Jim is sent out to be executed but manages to outsmart them and escape. Jim manages to return to the army base and unleash a batch of tricks and deception that sends the corrupt army in a whirlwind of terror and blood.
28 Days Later, directed by Danny Boyle, is truly a coming of age film when it comes to the zombie genre. Generally, zombies have been depicted as slow moving, sloth-like corpses that walk at night. One would almost think it's a wonder how zombies are even capable of attaining a victim to devour. It's like grandpa coming after you withhis walker of death. Unless that walker has evil birds shooting out of it, it’s really not that scary. In any case, Boyle's zombies, also known as "the infected", are almost impossible to get away from. Their movements are quick and seizure-like, and they take no time in devouring their victims…and quite violently I should add. With their blood soaked eyes, the “infected” prey on their victims like animals festering with rabies. Rage acts as the foundation of their graphic and violent attacks. Classic zombies, on the other hand, like to indulge on their victims almost as though they are savoring every bite. It seems as though Boyle’s type of zombie takes no time in shredding through a human torso and moving onto the next like it was nothing special. The fact that they sound like a cross between a squealing barn pig and a ferocious lion makes them that much more terrifying…almost as terrifying as Lil Kim’s painted on eye brows.
Another great thing about this film is the cinematography. In the wider shots, the subject and the background almost seem separate evoking a two-dimensional look. Other times, particularly scenes containing heavier dialogue, the image has a very gritty, low definition look. In amongst various scenes, there are also odd shots that look completely out of place such as a static, shadowy, profile shot in the middle of a poignant conversation. These choices may seem random and unnecessary but it adds to the quick and unprecedented nature of the rage virus wiping out the human race. The combination of the film’s overall visual texture and two-dimensional representation described also reflects the characteristics of a graphic novel, only in this case, transferred onto screen.
A review for 28 Days Later could go on forever. Whether it is the story surrounding the film, the phenomenal musical score, or the hardcore zombies threatening human existence, there’s little that can’t be discussed. As previously stated, this film has really changed the overall sloth-like stereotype of the traditional zombie and transformed it into something much more worthy of being feared. It is the zombie of a new generation, one that plays on society’s fear of pandemics and the disturbing way they are dealt with from a scientific and authority stand point. These zombies were not only created so the viewer could watch someone’s neck being chewed on like a chicken drum stick, they also convey how terror can be conceived and how easy it is to become.
28 Days Later