28 Days Later
Style and inspiration
- "the power of the film is not that it hasn't been done before, but that it hasn't been done recently."
- Kim Newman, Empire
Similarities in the concept could be drawn to David Cronenberg's horror film Rabid and in storyline to works by George Romero. The film also bears similarity to John Wyndham's novel The Day of the Triffids in several of its story elements, notably in scenes depicting a post-apocalyptic London.
Boyle has written that 28 Days Later is not a science fiction or horror film but rather a drama. Indeed, the film's "zombie moments" are few and far between, and the bulk of the running time is dedicated to character study and building suspense. Of particular note is the character Selena, one of the strongest black female heroes in recent years. We first meet Selena as she saves a life, and her physical strength, cleverness and determination are vital to the film's plot.
Tagline: Day 1: Exposure - Day 3: Infection - Day 8: Epidemic - Day 20: Evacuation - Day 28: Devastation
The film begins with a group of activists storming an animal testing laboratory and releasing the chimpanzees therein. The animals however, were being tested with a virus known as "the rage", making them extremely violent. The virus is highly infectious, and any contact with infected blood will transfer the disease in a matter of seconds. The activists release a monkey, which straight away attacks and infects them.
28 days later, Jim, a bicycle courier who had been in a coma all this time, wakes up to find his hospital completely empty. Wandering around empty London streets he soon realises that something completely devastating has happened. He unwittingly attracts the attention of some 'infected', and narrowly escapes death when two fellow survivors pick him up.
The survivors, Mark and Selena, tell Jim what has happened. Jim insists on trying to make a trip to visit his parents' house. The others reluctantly agree, but on arriving there Jim finds that his parents have committed suicide together. An infected -- one of their former neighbors -- attacks them, and Selena hacks Mark to death with a machete when she realizes he was himself infected in the attack and about to turn. Jim accepts, however tentatively, that Selena will be more than willing to do the same for him should he be infected.
The two of them venture out once again and spy a set of working Christmas lights -- an aberration when there is no electricity -- in the window of a flat. The building itself has been heavily barricaded from within against infected, and inside they meet Frank (a cabdriver) and Hannah, his teenaged daughter. They haven't seen anyone in weeks themselves, and are only too happy to have Jim and Selena as company.
A pre-recorded looped radio broadcast reveals an area near Manchester which the military have secured. The four eventually decide to set out for it in Frank's cab and subsequently find a group of soldiers, who take them to a large mansion that has been converted into a military post. Unfortunately, the soldiers are in their own way just as dangerous as the infected. Selena and Hannah are set up to be sexually enslaved, but Jim narrowly escapes execution (although he does take a bullet to the chest) to drive them to safety.
In the film's coda (shot on 35mm film, unlike the rest of the film), Jim re-awakens in a country cottage to find Selena and Hannah have managed to attract the attention of a jet pilot from another country (possibly Finland). Their fate, along with the fate of the rest of the country, is left open-ended.
The film features spectacular scenes set in normally bustling parts of London such as Piccadilly Circus, Horse Guards Parade and Oxford Street. To capture these locations looking empty and desolate, the film crew closed off sections of street for a matter of minutes at a time, usually early in the morning, to minimise disruption. The film was shot on Digital Video cameras, which are much smaller and more manoeuvrable than traditional film cameras, on which such brief shoots would have been impractical. The use of digital video also adds a 'documentary' feel to movie, and adds to the realism.
The scenes of the M1 motorway completely devoid of traffic were also filmed in limited time slots. In this case, a mobile police roadblock slowed traffic down enough to leave a long section of carriageway empty while the scene was filmed.
- Writing Details: Alex Garland
- Original Music: Danny Boyle, John Murphy, God Speed You Black Emperor
- Release Date: 1st November 2002, (UK)
- Runtime: 113 mins
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
- BBFC Rating: 18
- MPAA Rating: R
- Official Movie Site
- 28 Days Later at the Internet Movie Database