28 Days Later is kind of an odd one. A pre-famous Cillian Murphy stars in this zombie flick that came out in kind of an in between of the zombie classics and the zombie horde (see what I did there?) of films in the modern era. What does that mean for the film as a whole? Well check out the trailer below and then continue on down for a review. But be ye warned, spoilers abound.
Reviewed by: Jack
Cillian Murphy plays our hero Jim, an underwhelming bike messenger from London, who awakes from a 28 day coma alone in a hospital. Scared and confused, he scrambles around looking for answers and gathering supplies. Well, Pepsis. He’s mostly gathering cool, refreshing Pepsis.
Eventually, Jim stumbles into a church graffitied with the pithy phrase: “Repent, the end is extremely fucking nigh.” And nigh indeed it is, because as Jim is scanning the dead bodies in the church, a couple get up and start zombieing right the fuck towards him.
While running away from those zombies, Jim comes across Selena (Naomi Harris) and some guy. The three of them embark on a survival adventure and quickly become two as the other guy is ripped apart by zombies. Eventually, they add a dad and young girl to the crew, and move out toward salvation.
When they come across a para-military compound, they find anything but salvation, becuase Chris Eccleston and his rag-tag group of psychos have decided that it’s time to start repopulating the earth via imprisonment and rape almost immediately.
Jim, out of fucking nowhere, mind you, goes full commando and tears through the compound with a previously unseen firearm proficiency and penchant for sticking thumbs in eyeballs. Yay? Our heros wind up in a small rural cottage where they decide to craft a message out of bedsheets in the form of the word “hello” written on the hillside.
What the Movie Does Right
The tone of this movie is spot on. With a relatively small budget, they fucking closed down major London streets so that Cillian Murphy could amble through them alone, and that weird discomfort comes through while you’re watching. Also, on the whole, the effects are damned good. The fact that this was filmed digitally while the technology was still young is a little odd, but it also kind of works, and helps set the tone as well.
What the Movie Does Wrong
This movie is paced very strangely. There is an aggressive amount of nothing happening until all of a sudden, a whole fuck load of a lot is happening. Then it repeats. The plot mirrors this weird pacing, as Jim, who for the first half of the movie was a milquetoast hanger-on to Selena’s badassery, instantly becomes Michael Weston crossed with Rambo as he takes out all of Chris Eccleston’s soldiers. It’s shocking. And about those soldiers. Jim was asleep for 28 days, and at the start of that things were fine. We know from other dialog that it took a couple of weeks before this thing was full on apocalyptic. So that means this crew of maniacs decided that it was time to kidnap and rape women, what, 14 fucking days into this thing? Jesus . . . I mean . . . never do that obviously, but at least give it a couple of months.
Story: 7 - I’m no huge fan of zombie movies, but this is one of the good ones. The waking up from a coma in the middle of the apocalypse is a clever bit and a good way to skirt the logical issues that come up if you try to show the beginning stages of a pandemic like this. The movie hits the right beats and also innovates, and that’s neat.
World-Building / Immersion: 5 - On the one hand, the eerie all alone feeling draws you right in and works very well, but on the other hand, the strange pacing, digital filming, and Pepsi product placement pull you right back the other way.
Scare-Factor: 6 - The alone scenes feel eerie, and the jump scares make you jump. That’s a decent start. I’m penalizing it because the jump scares tend to be pretty lazy and come at you in moments of relaxed silence, but it’s still a pretty frightening movie.
Effects (or Judicious Lack Thereof): 5 - This again is kind of a cop-out rating. Some of the things like the zombies look really good, but then some of the blood splatter effects absolutely do not. This is also where I’m hitting the movie for forgetting when power works and when it doesn’t.
Overall: 7 - This is definitely a tilt up for me. This is just a good damn movie. If you haven't seen this one yet, it’s definitely worth a watch if for no other reason than as a pillar of the zombie movie history and development. Also, the fact that it’s my lovely wife’s favorite horror movie isn’t hurting at all here either.