28 Days Later
By the folks that brought you Trainspotting and Shallow Grave, 28 Days Later is a big fat steaming metaphor on a low budget silver platter. The story is interesting enough; a man named Jim awakes in hospital after a terrible virus has (while he was unconscious) emptied London. Only a few uninfected remain. What's the catch? The virus is known as Rage, and it is just that; within seconds of infection the victim is consumed by violent, murderous insanity, and will perpetually attack any uninfected person that comes along. Beginning as most horrible diseases always seem to, Rage began in monkeys, caged in a laboratory experiment and exposed to images of horrific human-to-human violence (not unlike the reels Alex was forced to watch in A Clockwork Orange).
So, it's thematically a zombie movie, but also it's more than that. Those infected by rage don't shuffle crookedly down shadowy streets - they run and jibber and wield weapons. Rage is spread through bodily fluids, more virulent than HIV and more projectile than Ebola, which is especially effective when the mechanism of transmitting bodily fluids is by being viciously attacked by someone spewing them into the wounds they inflict. Side effects may include uncontrollable homicidal violence, craziness, a hunger for uninfected human flesh, freshets of blood vomit, scary glowing red eyes, and simian-like agility and speed. Ask your doctor if Evacuation is good for you.
While our latter day Rip Van Winkle is being pursued by slavering Wee Willy Winkies, he joins up with a few lucky uninfected, and together they start the job of survival. The lesson here, such as it is, is that in order to survive in a world ruled by Rage, one must adopt the cruel ways of the infected in order to defeat them, and to attempt to continue life as we know it. Sure, the metaphor of rage and hatred begets more of the same is pretty obvious, but the bigger message of even those who are not infected will eventually become cruel themselves, is a stronger one. Jim, who was out cold while all these changes were happening, is the furthest from being corrupted by the new regime, such as it is; and even he falls prey to thoughtless killing when its needed. In a way, the infected are at least predictable; and they are mortal as well. The uninfected are devious and unpredictable, and scarier as a result. In a world full of rage, it does not matter if you yourself are filled with it; no one is immune. Ooh deep, right?
The movie is shot on video, and the crappy low-rent look kind of adds to the eerie reminders of Romero's granddaddy of zombie metaphor movies, Dawn of the Dead. Instead of being mindless mall crawlers, these unfortunates are poisoned by violence and hatred. To the credit of 28 Days Later, considering everything, it is not gratuitously scary or violent, i.e. the filmmakers are paying attention to their own message. One scene my companions all agreed was scary, but our group of six was pretty divided on the quality of the movie. Some call it a thoughtful thriller, some call it boring as all get out. Others call it "pretty fun." If you see it, your best bet is probably to rent it.
-- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ These reviews (c) 2003 Karina Montgomery. Please feel free to forward but credit the reviewer in the text. Thanks. You can check out previous reviews at: http://www.cinerina.com and http://ofcs.rottentomatoes.com - the Online Film Critics Society http://www.hsbr.net/reviews/karina/listing.hsbr - Hollywood Stock Exchange Brokerage Resource
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