28 Days Later is a horror film, directed by Danny Boyle, set in the UK, after a large amount of the population is infected Rage virus, an incurable illness which turns people into homicidal, raging individuals, set four weeks (or 28 days) after the onset of the virus, the story follows people in London, setting about trying to survive and find a place to survive in.
The film stars Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Toby Sedgwick, David Schneider and is a film driven by a few performances, Murphy especially in his breakout role, the film isn’t full of huge name actors and that does contribute to the story feeling a bit more visceral and gritty in a way, the lack of A-list actors not taking away from the film at all. The plot is gripping and very much a thrill ride, following Jim (Cillian Murphy) as he wakes up in a hospital and comes to terms with the state of London and the existence of Rage infected people in a very visceral way, coming across some of them and running for his life. Murphy is the blank slate for the audience and the shoes to imagine yourself in and his experience is pretty bleak, you want the guy to survive and empathise with him being so in the dark in the situation (as you the viewer are), so you naturally root for him and feel attached to the character.
In the way the film is shot, Danny Boyle crafts a tense and stripped back take on the traditional zombie film, though the infected in this series don’t eat people and just kill them because they’re so driven to kill because of the virus, that in itself is a nuance for the zombie genre and it’s done well. 28 Days Later is an excellent example of less being more in telling a story, exposition is there as the story goes on, but initially you’re as clueless and as Jim is, not knowing what’s happening now or where everyone is, though you do get an overview of the story at the start. The mystery is still highlighted in the films’ iconic and haunting scenes of an abandoned, decrepit Central London.
Also in simply getting shots like that, Danny Boyle shows the amount of time and effort that was put into the film, effort which is also seen in the infected who are pretty terrifying, distinctly human and not shuffling around like zombies, they sprint like Olympic athletes and are all over unprotected people in seconds, presenting a formidable threat. The film is pretty gory to say the least but not gratuitously, you very much understand and see what the infected do when they get their hands on a non-infected and that fact alone makes them pretty terrifying, with scenes being shot to reflect the infecteds’ sheer rage and manic rush people have to get away from them during an encounter. Scenes with attacks have fast cuts and shaky cam, as if there’s an invisibly bystander witnessing what’s going on, drawing the viewer further into the scene and giving you an over the shoulder view of the action, while we also get to see sweeping wide shots of an empty, inactive London, with the only action being the infected chasing people which makes for a stark contrast.
Their speed plus the well done makeup in the film contribute to their sheer presence being so menacing, seeing non-infected characters out in the open and facing them, you know something’s about to go down and seeing how people react to the infected and try to get away is always gripping and tense.
28 Days is modern horror at its’ best with a clear, menacing threat, a great story and continual foreboding sense of terror and tension maintained throughout the story, while the story itself is interesting and very much an emotional roller coaster.
. Great performances in the film
. Fantastically shot film, captures the tension in scenes
. Very intense, gripping scenes