Director: Danny Boyle
Screenwriter: Alex Garland
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Noah Huntley, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, Christopher Eccleston
A group of animal rights activists break into a lab performing experiments on monkeys and set the creatures free. However, unbeknown to their liberators the monkeys are carrying a highly infectious virus known as ‘rage’ causing the infected to (angrily) search out victims to convert them into one of their own.
28 days later, bicycle courier Jim (Murphy) comes to from a coma to find himself wandering the deserted streets of London. Coming across a handful of survivors – Selena (Harris), Frank (Gleeson) and Hannah (Burns) – they head for a lone military hideout in Manchester. However, its leader Major Henry West (Ecclestone) doesn’t provide quite the sanctuary they seek…
Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting; Shallow Grave), the film is reminiscent of George A. Romero’s Dead trilogy - even though the infected aren’t zombies as such they’re still stumbling around in search of blood. However, it feels like a fresh take on the idea and has a truly British feel to it.
There is a wonderful sense of atmosphere throughout the movie, beginning with the scene in which Jim first wakes from his coma and searches the city for survivors, using familiar images such as a red bus, here overturned, to heighten the sense of apocalypse. The fact that usually bustling places are now cold and empty is reinforced by an eerie silence, a silent soundtrack being employed well at many points in the film. The fact that the movie was shot on digital video adds to its gritty effect.
As well as providing the requisite thrills expected from such a movie, 28 Days Later also aims to give the viewer something to think about. Writer Alex Garland inserts a couple of scenes asking questions about Man’s dominance over the planet – we’ve not been around that long in Earth’s history so being wiped out by a virus would be a return to normality. It also examines human nature in times of crisis and lawlessness and how people may return to basic instincts and impulses of self-preservation rather than pulling together in a sense of kinship.
A thrilling, gory affair, 28 Days Later is a well directed, believably acted yarn and well worth a watch, particularly for Romero fans.
28 Days Later will be shown at 22:15 on Saturday March 18 on Channel 4.