28 WEEKS LATER
General Release 2007
99 minutes approx
Directed by -
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Written by -
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Rowan Joffe, Jesus Olmo
The Rage Virus is sweeping through Britain. One small group is holed up in a fortified cottage, scratching for survival when a young boy, panicked and in need of help brings the enraged Infected right to their doorstep. Don sees his wife dragged away and barely escapes with his life.
It's 28 weeks later and the virus has passed. All of the infected have died of starvation and the long task of rebuilding has started. Don is reunited with his children, who were abroad at the time of the original outbreak, and then with his wife. She carries the virus, but is not affected by it. When Don unwisely kisses her, he becomes infected and starts a whole new outbreak.
Fortunately, the military have a plan to deal with this. Unfortunately, it means the utter extermination of everyone inside the quarantine zone. The fight for survival is on again, but this time there are two dangers.
Britain in terminal decay seems to be the theme of the moment. In CHILDREN OF MEN if was from the lack of children, now it's from the lack of everyone. This bleak and dystopian future is realised with remarkable skill and proves to be utterly convincing as the shell-shocked and helpless, almost hopeless, survivors are shuttled back into the Isle of Dogs, the first stronghold of the rebuilding operation.
Some of the set up is a bit clunky. The fiesty medical officer lays it all out on the line in the explanatory board meeting where the commander in chief explains how the military have it all under control and she asks 'What if it comes back'. And, of course it does come back. In spades.
The problem with sequels is that they have to be bigger than the original and often the concepts don't stretch to that. This, though, is no quick knock off out to simply skim a few more quid out of the original idea. The setting makes sense and the manner in which the virus comes back into the population is credible. On top of that, the characters actually act in a manner that you can believe in, the doctor trying to save her two child wards because of what's in their blood rather than because they're kids, the sniper finally sickening of the pointless killing and leaving his post, the helicopter pilot refusing to take the civilians that are with his comrade. These are believable characters acting believably in a credible scenario that expands on the original without following its template. Also the film sets out its stall early on by infecting its one name star. With only no name actors in the cast there are no guarantees on who will survive.
Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo does a fine job is keeping all of this together. He makes London look gorgeous and empty in the quieter moments, gets good performances out of his cast in the early sections where time is given to his characters to show they are real people before all the running and the killing. Ah, the running and the killing. Make no mistake, there is a lot of running and killing. The rage virus is a masterful creation and the depiction of its effects is shown through frenetic camerawork that moves so quickly and uncontrollably that you can barely register what is actually happening, but the sense of speed and violence is certainly rammed home. There is much blood, gore and tearing of flesh, but you register it without really seeing it, so fast is the action. Only the attack of the raging Don on his strapped down wife is shown in any detail and is all the worse for it.
This is a science fiction horror movie first and foremost and there are bravura scenes there to terrify. The stand out is walk through the blacked out Underground with only a sniper night scope to see what lies in wait, but the deadly gas creeping through the streets is eerily terrible and the fire-bombing of London streets is both terrible and beautiful.
28 WEEKS LATER is a kinetic science fiction horror that sets up its scenario and characters well enough to ensure that you will care, will be scared and will have a good time.Top
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