“Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.”

Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Alex Garland
Staring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston
Streaming: HBO Max
Release Date: June 27, 2003

When I wrote my blog about my favorite zombie movies (shameless plug), the one movie I truly wanted to rewatch was 28 Days Later (2003). This movie was one of the first zombie movies I remember watching and my fondness for it has only been reinforced after watching it again.

What makes 28 Days Later a tier above its competitors is its ability to smoothly transition the focus of the movie’s terror. The shock and awe of the zombies in the beginning carries the audience into the realm of suspense and by the end of the story the viewer’s emotions are wrought with distress and anguish. 28 Days Later accomplishes a tried and true goal of many horror movies; the monster is not necessarily the true evil, rather it is humanity and its instinctual reaction. This is what The Night Of the Living Dead (1968) does to perfection, and what shows like The Walking Dead try and do to stay relevant.

The desolation shown when Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up is fantastically depression and beautiful. The filming process for it is interesting as well. From Cinema.com

One of the biggest challenges of the film was filming on a deserted motorway. The production got permission to shoot on the MI on a Sunday morning between 7. 00am and 9. 00am. With the help of the police gradually slowing the traffic both ways, and using ten cameras, the filmmakers managed to capture a minute of emptiness as Frank drives his cab towards Manchester. “It was a technical nightmare but a fantastically weird scene,” says Boyle. “It makes you feel that the whole of Britain has been abandoned. “

When the bell tolls and the car alarm goes off while Jim is wandering around London is scary and haunting because you know what is coming while the character has simply no idea. It is also fantastic story telling that Jim is wandering slowly and aimlessly like a normal zombie typically would, but the terrors in the movie are fast moving and heat-seeking killers.

That is the first example of how humans are compared to zombies in 28 Days Later. The trend continues throughout the movie but is shown most horrifically in the final climatic moment. When Jim escapes the crutches of Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston) and his men, he turns into a monster himself. The vengeance and vitriol Jim is consumed by is like the Rage that is infecting the entire world. The hesitation by Selena (Naomie Harries) in potentially striking Jim during his rescue shows how Jim has changed as a person, but that change is controllable, unlike the hunger of those infected. Also a wonderful call back in the script at the moment when Jim says her delay was longer than a heartbeat.

Cillian Murphy is great in the lead as Jim. His emancipated state is another parallel to the zombies who are hungry for human flesh. This movie was one of the first major market projects he was in and since then he has only taken off. I can’t wait for the next installment of Peaky Blinders and anything Murphy is in has my attention. Murphy wasn’t the only actor to put in a great performance, credit must be paid to Naomie Harris who played the female badass Selena. She reached marketability when she appeared in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise but everyone noticed her when she emerged in Skyfall (2012).

The dark themes of 28 Days Later are amplified by the way director Danny Boyle filmed the movie. It was his executive decision to film the camera using a lower grade camera to add a harshness and “real-world plausibility” to the story. The violence and depravity of the zombies and humanity is given extra grading with the edges rustic tendencies.

Everything about 28 Days Later has stood the test of time. The film reinvigorated the genre and helped put zombies into the forefront again. It is in independent-esq vibe but with a blockbuster feel in terms of impact. It is a must see for an horror movie fan. I can’t wait to watch 28 Weeks Later (2007).

STANKO RATING: A- (4.0/5 Stars)

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