A year ago, Resident Evil apparently rejuvenated the zombie genre with a slick and exciting presentation that starred Milla Jovovich in a very sexy red dress. This time around, there's no heroine running around in revealing clothing, but 28 Days Later offers a different kind of zombie film that proves that much smaller budgets can still deliver.
28 Days Later stars Christopher Eccleston as Jim, who one day wakes up in a deserted hospital bed. He leaves the building only to find that not only has the building been abandoned, but so has the city of London. It turns out that a deadly virus has swept the planet, and those infected becoming flesh-hungry zombies. Most people are dead and only a few survivors remain.
Many people will undoubtedly compare this movie to Resident Evil, as that was the most recent zombie film to hit theaters, but these movies are about as drastically different as fire and ice. Resident Evil had a bigger budget and, based on a video game, very stylish. Resident Evil also took place underground and featured the typical zombies everyone has come to expect.
28 Days Later has a completely different mood and feel. The movie is a low-budget foreign film that rarely has a perfectly clear frame. The movie is not action-packed, at least in the same form as in Resident Evil (which included a lot of special effects, kung fu and shooting). There is a very ominous and abandoned feel about the movie, as it appears as though all but a few human beings have survived on the entire face of the planet. The main character is not some hot action star. Furthermore, the zombies are not a bunch of stumbling, flesh-hungry idiots; they are fast, ruthless and will do just about anything to get their food.
The movie is, obviously, low budget, but does an exceptional job of making the most for its buck. The acting is pretty good. The zombies are scary. And the setting is equally eerie.
The entire setting of the film is excellent, as it portrays a deep sense of foreboding that not too many films can pull off. The first half hour is very sensational, as our star roams around an empty London and finally comes face to face with the zombies.
28 Days Later goes mildly downhill as time goes on, culminating in a climax that perhaps isn't the greatest for a zombie movie. The movie turns into a human vs. human thriller instead of a human vs. zombie thriller, and while there is nothing inherently bad about the route it goes, some people may find it undesirable. Certainly, some people would much rather see the heroes take on plenty of zombies instead of a bunch of horny soldiers.
The characters also make a few incredibly stupid mistakes that are bad even for horror movie characters. These mistakes seemed to be placed in the movie for the sole sake of moving the story along, even though they make little sense. For instance, at one point, the survivors decide to drive through a London tunnel to save time. Why the hell would you go underground when the city has been overrun by zombies? At another time, the main character goes into a dark, deserted gas station by himself, where, of course, there is a zombie. Why on earth would you do this?
Regardless of its flaws, 28 Days Later flows fairly consistently and has some good zombie scenes. It definitely could use more zombies, but the route the director decides to take is intriguing to say the least.
28 Days Later is a good contribution to the zombie genre, even though it is much different than more normal zombie films such as Resident Evil.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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