Directed by Danny Boyle and starring Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson and Christopher Ecclestone, 28 Days Later is one of the must see zombie films and one of the best horror films of the early 2000s. Set in England, the plot follows Jim (Murphy) as he wakes up from a coma 28 days after Monkeys infected with “Rage” escape from a testing facility. The Zombies aren’t the slow undead type of zombies, but are instead living people infected with a kind of intense rabies that passes through blood and saliva. They can run an are just as strong and fast as people jacked up on adrenaline, and so are very vicious and threatening. It is an intense film with a lot of harsh moments and a modern classic of a horror film.
This film definitely has its terrifying moments, just from some of the imagery Boyle creates. The films openning shots of Cilian Murphy wandering through a completely deserted London is harrowing! The way the music builds as more and more chaos is slowly revealed really raises the tension. The imagery is probably the scariest thing about the film, as Boyle makes it feel so real and plausible and it really immerses you in the horrific world created. The tension is built masterfully. Sometimes it’ll be built slowly while other times it will come out of no where. The film flows through the story at a perfect pace to make the tension more effective, as you can feel when somethings going to go wrong or when something isn’t all that it seems to be. It’s a great script too, good dialogue and an original plot, which is hard to find in a zombie film. It is not only about trying to survive a zombie apocalypse, but it’s also about the depths that humanity can sink to when it’s on it’s last legs, and that when it comes down to it, we are no better than the rage infested monster’s that fill this film. I don’t want to spoil the last sequence just before the ending, but it is amazing and feels almost poetic and very satsifying.
The acting is fine. Brendon Gleeson stands out amongst the cast as he is really likeable and I feel carrys most of the films heart, being charming and funny when he needs to be but also serious when it comes to it. But the other actors do a fine job, they just don’t stand out too much. You do really care about the characters though. This film is really Danny Boyles medium not it’s actors. The direction outshines the actors a bit, which isn’t a problem, just don’t expect oscar performances but definitly adequate ones.
Most of the films flaws come from it’s very low budget, as the camera quality isn’t the best so the film looks dated even though it’s only 14 years old. There are some really weird effect shots that stand out like a saw thumb, like this one of a field full of flowers as a car drives past in the distance, the flowers look very badly painted I dunno if that’s deliberate or not but it really stands out and it bugs me.
Also some moments, especially early on, are made to feel really intense by having lots of cuts, close ups, and shaky cam when the zombies are attacking. While this does make it feel very intense, it can also feel disorientating and it’s very hard to tell wants going on amist the wild camera work. That was probably intentional to make it feel more immersive but still it can be hard to follow whats happening in the action scenes.
28 Days Later is a brilliant horror film and a masterful piece of directing. It still scares me even though I’ve seen it countless times just by its terrifyingly realisitc plot and disturbing imagery. A really great film.
P.S. Watched this with my girlfriend in our hotel room at Centre Parcs, first day of our holiday! Films a lot scarier when your in a dark hotel room haha