28 May 2007, 04:06

28 Weeks Later

I was pleasantly surprised with 28 Weeks Later. After learning that it wasn’t directed by Danny Boyle and after seeing the trailers I was considering not even seeing it in theaters, a drastic reaction given that I’ll go for pretty much any thing with zombies in it. Upon seeing that the trailer featured lots of soldiers, huge explosions, and kids as the main characters I made the assumption that they’d taken things in the direction of Resident Evil with stupid, brain-dead (heh) action, and added a heart warming family element to make it more accessible. This turned out to be entirely not the case, and I’m glad I ended up seeing it. It stays very close to the style of the first movie, right down to the godspeed you! black emperor inspired soundtrack. Of course, this also means tons of shaky cam and low frame rate flashes, which may or may not be your thing. I thought it still worked well though. While there was certainly plenty of action, it never felt like it was at the expense of the characters or the atmosphere though it did contain less quietly unsettling moments than the first. I guess it was somewhat like the shift in tone from Alien to Aliens, though not quiet as drastic. Having younger characters in the focus certainly didn’t soften the previous film’s vision of the zombie apocalypse either. A NY Times review called it “unflinching”, and I couldn’t think of a better word really. If anything did soften from the first film, it was the portrayal of the darker aspects of humanity. It’s no secret that zombie films (at least those that follow George Romero’s lead) almost always have a social commentary of some sort as the subtext, and more often than not the message is that man is the real monster. While it’s a recognizable trope of the genre, sometimes it can tend to be a little overstated and the more subtle presentation of 28 Weeks Later went over well with me. Unlike the first film, there aren’t any characters that are distinctly evil or despicable. True, the carnage and chaos are triggered and then exacerbated by human actions but it’s the result of believably flawed characters and people having to make impossible decisions, not out of malice or greed as might be more typical. There aren’t any characters, major or otherwise, that are impossible to sympathize with. It makes things a little more unpredictable since in most zombie films the unsympathetic characters are usually among the first to go, and quite messily at that. I may not be exactly hard to please when it comes to zombie films, but 28 Weeks Later definitely exceeded my expectations and then some.