I know I seem to start out a lot of these entries with how/when I saw them and the circumstances surrounding. And this one is no different. My husband and I still lived in Chicago when this came out, and we went opening night to an artsy theater (I can’t for the life of me remember where or what the theaters name was. Fuzzy memory strikes again!) The place was packed wall to wall it seemed, and the atmosphere was similar in a way to the theater before Cabin Fever. Everyone was looking for a little something different. A new take on the old cliches.
I have noticed a trend in a lot of my first reviews, many of the movies were pioneers in their field so to speak. 28 Days Later was one of the first “zombie” movies to put a real twist on the classic. It also started a cascade of other movies where the flesh eating was not because they were dead. It was because they were “infected”. Quarantine, Mulberry St. and a lot more have gone this route since 28 Days Later came out. And they have all made it their own in some small way, but this was the first time movie goers had watched something quite like this. It also, I believe, was the first time that “zombies” were shown running. Which is scary as shit compared to their shambling counterparts.
The other beauty about this movie is the artistry and sophistication of the plot. There are so many things going on simultaneously in this film. It was also a critical success, which for a horror movie says a lot about how well made this was. Most critics universally pan horror movies (which I think is total bull shit, but hey I don’t get paid to be an asshole and shit on people’s dreams). I think this is because the story was about so much more than just an infection. They called it the rage virus, and in the beginning we see a lab full of primates locked in cages, banging their fists on the dirty glass. One is tied down to a chair, surrounded by televisions, each playing scenes of extreme violence. This virus is an allegory to what this world is doing to itself.
I am a big fan of post apocalyptic stories. I love the Stand, and Mad Max, and pretty much any zombie movie. And I loooooove zombies. Every kind. The shambling rotted George Romero (may he rest in peace) zombies, or the running wild eyed “infected” zombies. And everything in between. The remake of Dawn of the Dead did kind of a good mix between the Romero zombies and the 28 days later zombies, which was really entertaining.
Oops there I go again off on a tangent chasing butterflies (bad example, I hate bugs even butterflies ick).
This film was also a limited run, so it was kind of a surprise hit in the U.S., and made quite a bit of money despite of the fact that it wasn’t in theaters everywhere. I think that really boils down to the fact that the script was tight as hell and the acting was spot on. Moments that spotlighted brilliantly the extreme spectrum of human emotion. The entire back third of the movie shows just how much men’s morals and beliefs can be pushed in times of struggle. It is both sick and also highlights the difference between the military men in that section of the movie and the main character who cares very deeply.
I remember leaving the theater both shocked and happy. I always come away with a deep sense of joy when a movie affects me like this. That leaves me with questions and lingers for a while. I can almost always tell when it’s going to be one of “those” movies, it’s like a little tingle in the back of my neck that spreads the rest of the way through me. That thrill when it hits you right in the gut.
Even if you are not a fan of the horror genre (and if you are reading this blog, you might want to be, cause half of the movies we own are horror!) this is a great movie. It has a lot more to offer then just zombies.