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Sunday, 21 October 2012

28 Weeks Later

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.

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