Monday, October 25, 2010

2010 Geek Fright Fest: 28 Days Later

28 Days Later (2002)
Rated R (for violence and language)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Cillian Murphy
Naomie Harris
Brendan Gleeson
Christopher Eccleston

Animal rights activists in Britain release a chimpanzee infected with "Rage", an Ebola-like virus, and are immediately infected themselves. 28 days later, a bicycle courier, Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up in a deserted London hospital to find England has been decimated by the rouge virus. After being chased by infected citizens, he finds a small band of survivors. Together they must escape the city and the hordes of infected chasing them along the way.

Drawing heavily from Richard Matheson's I Am Legend and George Romero's groundbreaking film Night of the Living Dead, Boyle and writer Alex Garland created a genre-changing modern zombie flick. Boyle's feeling was that every generation gets the type of zombie they deserve. Brain-eating radioactive zombies were created in a generation terrified of nuclear attack. With recent fears about the spreading of disease, Boyle and Garland based their zombies on a viral apocalypse.

The most amazing scenes in the film are those of deserted London streets. One of the busiest, most congested cities in the world, filming deserted areas was no easy task. Boyle and his team managed to film for an hour at a time, setting up a ravaged scene and and quickly taking it down again before and after each sequence. Garland and Boyle thoroughly researched the aftermath of unrest in areas like Sierra Leone and Rwanda, replicating pictures they had seen in some of the film's scenes (most notably, the bodies piled in the church).

The main reason zombies are scary is that there are so many of them. This movie doubles that fear. Not only are there thousands, the infected in 28 Days Later are ridiculously quick and the virus transmits from an infected person to a healthy person in a matter of seconds. Even a drop of infected blood can transmit the virus.

The film was shot on digital video, which gives it a realistic, raw quality - almost like a documentary. Boyle used the slow motion feature on Canon XL1 DV camera to film the infected, which produces a "jumpy" quality, making the scenes appear as though they were trimmed and edited together. He also hired athletic extras to play the infected, believing that they would be able to move their bodies in ways regular people wouldn't. All of these elements work together to create frenzied post-apocalyptic world where survival is the only goal.

The cast in this film is excellent, but they are outshone by the infected zombies, who are some of the most terrifying movie monsters of this century, made worse by the fact that a world wide epidemic is - if not probable - at the very least realistic.

Fright Rating: 4 gasps out of a possible five

This film is scary, fast-paced, and bloody. Fans of zombie flicks will love it, but I highly recommend it for all adult filmgoers.

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