Saturday, 27 October 2012
With each rewatch the weak special effects are not any less jarring, but this is still a bold, relentlessly bleak horror where the real terrors are located more with the nature of humanity than the creatures brought by the mist enveloping the town. Early on the film's B-movie feel - a blood covered survivor runs in proclaiming 'something out there, in the mist!' like an RKO movie tagline - gives the impression of a monster movie with a siege setting like Hitchcock's The Birds, but this is belied by its pessimistic view of society, as the survivors gradually split into two groups, one of them led by Thomas Jane's David, the other by the frighteningly zealous, Christian doomsayer Mrs Carmody, played by a brilliant Marcia Gay Haden. I don't think a character has ever made me say 'fuck yeah' for someone's death with more conviction than when Toby Jones shoots her in the head, but the really disturbing thing is I can imagine there are some people in this world like her. It's a film which really doesn't pull its punches, not just in regard to its much discussed, depressing ending, but in its depiction of religious mob justice, as one of the soldiers is murdered by Carmody's crowd of converts. Thomas Jane is strong in the lead as the father-with-son who leads the band of sane survivors, and Tony Jones is his ever reliable self as the store clerk who knows how to handle a gun, although the boy who plays the son is a fucking whiny sissy boy who seems to be crying every other scene. Although the effects do let it down at times and the creatures are for the most part forgettable, Darabont nonetheless builds tension expertly at the right moments and keeps the atmosphere of human paranoia strong.
Sunday, 21 October 2012
Its predecessor 28 Days Later reinvigorated the zombie horror subgenre, re-animating (give me one pun) the deceased as rabid, frenzied creatures instead of the lumbering incarnations of George Romero's zombie series. Other films such as REC latched on to this re-imagining of the zombie in modern horror to great effect, with Danny Boyle's 2002 original used as the blueprint for the walking dead. 28 Weeks Later picks up where the infected zone, Great Britain, has finally isolated and contained the contagion and begun to reconstruct after the nationwide mayhem brought on by the virus. London is now a militarised zone, governed by American forces. However, the events of the prologue, in which Robert Carlysle's character leaves his wife for the infected in the farmhouse they were hiding in, come back to haunt him as his wife reappears, found by her children in an abandoned house. She hasn't transformed, but is a carrier, valuable to Rose Bryne's army doctor for potentially developing a vaccine. Don visits her in quarantine but is infected by her, rapidly turning into an infected and killing her brutally. Moments later quarantine is broken and the infection spreads once again, and the military mobilises, implementing code red - killing without discrimination, infected or human.
As with 28 Days Later the direction and editing is frantic, ably continued by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and there are some impressive uses of sweeping long shots, for example in the prologue as Carlysle's Don escapes from the horde of infected, and a fantastically gory set piece in which masses of infected are wiped out by a helicopter blade. The London setting lends a greater sense of scale to the expansion of the contamination and when Code Red is invoked an extra dimension is added for the band of survivors as they have to avoid both the infected and the military. The survivors this time comprise the ever reliable Jeremy Renner (adding to his roster of military tough guys) as a deserting sniper, Rose Bryne's army medic, and Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton as the brother and sister who have had both parents taken by the Rage virus. So the plot focuses on the survival of the two siblings and Byrne's Scarlet as their protector, but compared to the previous film it is much more straightforward as a result, with character development secondary to the tension of the escape. The subplot of the infected Don chasing his children through London is also an overstretched plot point - does it suggest that he retained some memory of his family despite the transformation? It doesn't make complete sense. Overall however, 28 Weeks Later is an effective thriller and a worthy sequel which leaves its conclusion suitably open for another instalment, with the possibility that the children carry the key to a vaccine; but also an even more apocalyptic - global - contagion to destroy.
Saturday, 20 October 2012
With Haloween coming up I'm going to be reviewing any horror film I see in the build up to the traditional day of horror and the supermatural, along with the films I consider to to be classics of the genre. I'm also very excited to see the re-released version of The Shining when it comes out, so expect an appraisal of Kubrick's masterpiece, which I'm sure will still terrify audiences today. So (adopts Vincent Price voice) enter my vault of horror, as we slash through the grue and the gore, ghosts and nightmares to celebrate the fears of man !