28 Weeks Later, 2007.
Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo.
Starring Robert Carlyle, Catherine McCormack, Imogen Poots, Mackintosh Muggleton, Rose Byrne and Jeremy Renner.
Six months after the rage virus crippled England, an American military team enters the country to help re-establish the population.
I’ve already addressed the terminology controversy in my review for 28 Days Later… (2002), but to reiterate once more – these are not zombies in this movie, they are infected humans. However, the film itself exhibits enough similar characteristics for it to not unfairly be labelled and listed alongside zombie movies due to the similar themes tackled and the ever-present threat of mindless people acting on a most primal and basic instinct. The infected in both this movie and its predecessor are also considerably more terrifying than your average shuffling zombie.
28 Weeks Later begins with a short but brilliant prologue set during the first few days of infection. A small group of survivors have made a makeshift home in a barricaded cottage, and amongst the living are Don (Robert Carlyle) and his wife Alice (Catherine McCormack). In true zombie movie style it isn’t long before infected hands are bursting through boarded up windows and all hell breaks loose, allowing Don to reveal his truly cowardly nature when he scarpers alone. Twenty-eight weeks later and the infected have all starved to death, rendering Britain safe for re-population. An American-led NATO force has attempted to establish a safe zone for those returning to the country, and it is here where Don awaits the arrival of his children, Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) and Tammy (Imogen Poots).
Naturally it doesn’t take long for the virus to re-emerge, and Andy and Tammy find themselves separated from their father in a desperate bid to escape a city rapidly spiralling out of military control. The number of infected quickly rises, and it is only with the aid of chief medical officer Scarlet (Rose Byrne) and Sergeant Doyle (Jeremy Renner) that they have any hope of survival.
28 Weeks Later provides a clever continuation of the narrative set up in 28 Days Later…, portraying a desolate London with eerie accuracy. The inclusion of child characters may elicit some eye-rolling, but both are acted surprisingly well and Imogen Poots particularly stands out with the broad range of emotion she is capable of displaying. Her character Tammy is an elder sister to Andy, and so her fear is grounded in concern for his safety. Although Mackintosh Muggleton is impressive, his character is given a little less range which doesn’t really allow him to survey his surroundings with anything other than a mild panic.
The American heroes drafted in to save the day are written disappointingly flat, but Jeremy Renner’s character provides an interestingly heroic contrast to the weasely Don. Admittedly once the infection spreads director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo leaves little room for character development, seemingly determined to throw the characters from one action set-piece to the next. Perhaps allowing a little breathing room would have aided in creating more of an emotional impact during later moments, but 28 Weeks Later is a movie that is a little more focused on action than horror. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, and indeed there are some intelligent ideas bubbling beneath the surface, but these ideas are incapable of really flourishing amidst scenes of near-comical helicopter-induced carnage.
Although 28 Weeks Later is heavy on explosions, the infected are a monster than benefits the action genre. Their relentless and speedy pursuit force any survivors to keep constantly moving, robbing the characters precious time to formulate escape plans. Despite leaning towards action, there is still a bleakly dark tone that pervades. Britain truly is portrayed as a harrowing wasteland, and the military response to failing at dealing with a fresh outbreak is all-too believable. At times the film does ask for leaps of faith and suspension of plausible logic, but 28 Weeks Later is still a very good sequel that is surprisingly marginally more enjoyable than its worthy predecessor.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★