Tuesday, May 15, 2007
28 WEEKS LATER... (2007) - Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
In 1968, George A. Romero introduced mass audiences to the zombie in his brilliant Night of the Living Dead. Since then, the zombie has evolved and changed, going through many incarnations and changes. 2002 saw the release of Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later... with a different take on the classic lumbering undead. This time, the 'zombies' are not like their classic forefathers. These are people are not the undead. They're very much alive, however, they're infected with a virus called 'rage' and behave quite differently to zombies. This month sees the release of the sequel to 28 Days Later... 28 Weeks Later...
28 Weeks Later... picks up six months after the events of 28 Days Later... By now, the rage virus has been contained and eradicated and the US army is taking steps to repopulate London. They concentrate on first repopulating an area of London designated the Green Zone, the Isle of Dogs. Outside this area is still undergoing clean up operations and thus is forbidden. Among the first people to reenter London are siblings, Andy and Tammy, eager to be reunited with their father, Don (Robert Carlyle). Don is one of the people who survived the virus and the onslaught of infected, something we're shown in the prologue. Things seem to be returning to normal. But after going for a jaunt in the forbidden zone, Andy and Tammy set in motion a series of events that lead to a reemergence of the rage virus with disastrous consequences.
I really enjoyed Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later... The film was a brilliant sleeper hit that managed to be fresh and original to the horror genre, something that is quite rare these days. When 28 Weeks Later... was announced, I was apprehensive. But director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has created a very worthy sequel in this film. The early part of the film takes up the mantle left by Boyle (now Executive Producer) and shows us more images of deserted London but now with US soldiers cleaning up the carnage left by the disaster. However, once the action starts, the film takes off at full tilt and doesn't let up until the end.
The major criticism with the film, is that there is little room for character development. While we're given a brief insight into Don, Andy and Tammy's family, once everything kicks off, this is abandoned. The film favors action and spectacle over story, but this isn't too bad a thing, and provides plenty of quite impressive entertainment. There's even a nod to George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead, but taken to quite a gory level!
The performances are quite good, given that there's not much to be done once the chasing and shooting begins. Support from Rose Byrne as a US doctor named Scarlett and Jeremy Renner as a sniper named Doyle are quite good, and Robert Carlyle, as always, is fantastic. Fresnadillo's direction is a little distracting at first. He favors the low-lit frenetic approach to the scenes of close proximity to the infected. This is a little jarring, but I suppose that's the effect, to confuse and frighten the viewer. However, he doesn't always rely on this technique and the action is quite enjoyable. The violence and gore factor is extremely high too, which is expected in these types of films.
It's been quite a while since I've enjoyed a horror film at the cinema. And it's great to have a film that is extremely entertaining, though not without it's faults. There is an undercurrent that draws parallels with the US and British invasion and occupation of Iraq, but this isn't too prevalent as the film is dedicated to the spectacle over the message. Overall, a great piece of entertainment. A little light on story, but a visceral, loud, violent, gory piece of filmmaking.