**** Out of 5
Tagline- When Days Turn to Weeks
Release Date- May 11th, 2007
Running Time- 100-Minutes
Screenplay- Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, E.L. Lavigne & Jesus Olmo
Director- Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Starring- Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Imogen Poots, Mackintosh Muggleton
28 Weeks Later was released in 2007 and I saw it when visiting California and my viewing was at a drive-in, which was something I always wanted to do. While it was a fun experience it did hinder my enjoyment of the film since it was something so different for me. I liked it, but taking in everything around me it again did take away from the film. Upon seeing it again when released on video I was better able to sit back and watch it and this time around I loved it. 28 Weeks Later is one of the rare sequels that actually lives up to the original and perhaps maybe even a little better. 28 Days Later is a great film that’s quite eerie and it has some of the best sense of isolation and dread as any other genre film. 28 Weeks Later is a little more stylized and while it may not have the isolation, dread and even atmosphere of the original, but it makes up for that in my opinion being scarier than the original. For me 28 Weeks Later is one of the few modern horror films that is suspenseful and even a bit scary at times. It’s tough for me to pick between this and the original since they both have aspects I like more than the other and odds are I’d probably go back and forth on, which I liked more, but if forced to pick I may have to go with 28 Weeks Later.
A review wouldn’t be complete without getting into the is this a zombie film? I personally don’t see this or the original as zombie films. Others like it such as Rec I say the same thing. I Drink Your Blood from 1970 and George Romero’s the Crazies from 1973 aren’t seen as zombie films and 28 Days/Weeks Later, Rec and all those films deal with an infection spreading. However they do follow the basic formula of a zombie film and there have been films with a virus spreading that turned people into zombies. Lucio Fulci’s Zombie 3 comes to mind, but there is a difference in how these films were done and while I wouldn’t argue against these infected films being zombie films I personally don’t consider them to be.
I think part of what makes these infected films so scary for me is something like this could be possible. Now I’m not saying this could really happen, but is it really out of the realm of possibility? From chemical and biological wars to even a scientist creating a vaccine for some disease that something goes wrong with I don’t think the infected films are impossible. Odds are if something like this did happen it wouldn’t turn people into raging killers it would just be an infection spreading and people dying sort of like the plague, but again for me what makes it so terrifying is it isn’t impossible and as much as I love zombie films and many are among my favorites I think the infected films are scarier in general (not all cases) for reasons I explained.
The screenplay by Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, E.L. Lavigne & Jesus Olmo is excellent and well plotted. A few months after the rage virus spread through the UK a section of London is now secure and people are brought in to start over and is guarded by the US army, but when the rage virus begins to spread again all hell breaks loose. The characters are the strongest aspect of the script, which is a good thing seeing as the good portion of the middle of the film focuses on the characters. The main characters are all well developed and even a little complex such as Don (Carlyle) who in the opening act leaves his wife behind to save himself (which I’ll get into more detail later). If only more writers would take note on what the writers of this film did the horror genre would be a lot better served.
The opening scene was apparently directed by Danny Boyle with the rest of the film directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. The opening act is one of the very best you’ll see in the horror films. It’s well shot, lit, written, directed and acted and it’s quite tense and really sets the tone for the rest of the film. The film does slow down a bit after that, but Juan Carlos Fresnadillo always keeps the film moving at a steady pace with an uneasy feeling. Fresnadillo for most of the middle focuses on the characters and with his excellent directing and the excellent performances the audience should get attached to the main characters at least I did. Once the film hits the 50-minute mark it’s all out chaos and Fresnadillo delivers some truly terrific suspense scenes and plenty of scares. Now that the characters are developed it raises the stakes when they’re in jeopardy and Fresnadillo delivers again some truly amazing scenes of suspense and tension and the scares are plenty.
What I love though about the opening is when Don leaves his wife behind to save himself as it’s something I think a lot more people would do than willing to admit. It’s really such a great scene since its unexpected. At first Don fights off the infected, but when he loses his weapon he tries to get his wife to leave with him, but she won’t leave the child they just took in. And once more of the infected appear he runs off as she’s screaming for him. While it was a cowardly act it’s also realistic since again I’m sure a lot of people would probably do the same thing, but we aren’t meant to dislike like Don. He knows he made the wrong choice since he lies to his children about what happened, but the reason this scene really stands out with me is again its unexpected and despite what he did he isn’t unlikable and is just a complex character. Another great character was Doyle (Renner) who is the opposite of Don in regards to throughout the film he shows a lot of bravery and is willing to risk his life for others, but rather than feel like he typical film hero it feels very much natural due to the writing, directing and performance by Jeremy Renner.
Overall 28 Weeks Later is a truly great film and one of the few modern horror films that’s actually quite terrifying and intense. Like I said its really tough to pick between this and the original film since both are great movies, but regardless on which is better I think this is one of the best sequels as it very much lives up to the original in being suspenseful and scary.