This is a rare gem of a horror movie that managed to get an excellent director and really great actors involved. It underlines an important point about film making that regardless of the genre, strong story telling and performance count for a hell of a lot more than just entertainment and shock. This movie has plenty of gross-out moments, shock and entertainment value, but it’s a great film because the people who made it cared enough to put the effort and time in to making it great.
This is a beautiful poster image. It’s stark, clear and says everything we need to know. Location: London. Problem: disease. Creatures: infected. And the character on the bottom turns out to be our main protagonist right from the get go. We don’t have a lot of crappy distractions or flashy graphics. Just a nice clean image. And the title itself is brilliant. It gives us a mysterious and enigmatic image of aftermath. It’s not so long after “something” but long enough that whatever it was must be pretty bad. What is this mysterious something? Let’s watch and find out.
I could wax poetic about all the good points in this movie but you’ll find them in the viewing. As I’ve already said the acting and direction are top notch. You’ve got an impressive lineup with Danny Boyle directing and actors like Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson involved.
The film opens with a clear explanation of how the world, or at least Britain met its end and gives us a beautiful moral dilemma. A group of animal rights activists try to do the right thing by rescuing apes from scientists experimenting on them with a type of disease that makes the apes go mad with rage. (Planet of the Apes anyone?) The good guys bringing about a disaster even though they were trying to do the right thing. That’s compelling.
28 Days later Rick Grimes wakes up in the hospital . . . Oh! Sorry, the main character, Jim, played by Cillian Murphy, wakes up in the hospital to discover a dead world. He slept through the whole thing. As 28 Days Later progresses, Jim meets up with other survivors as they explore what’s left of the British countryside.
It’s tempting to say this was the inspiration for The Walking Dead having Rick wake up in the hospital. The first issue of the comic was published after 28 Days Later was made so it’s hard to say otherwise. That initially put me off the Walking Dead as such a blatant opening seemed more rip-off than homage.
Robert Kirkman addressed this in an interview with EW when the show started claiming it was a coincidence and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
From the interview:
EW: I suspect a lot of people who are coming across the story of The Walking Dead for the first time would have thought that the guy-wakes-from-coma-to-discover-that-the-world-has-been-overrun-by-zombies plot was very similar to 28 Days Later. Presumably you had seen that film when you wrote the first issue of the comic?
RK: No. Welcome to my life seven years ago. It was complete coincidence. I saw 28 Days Later shortly before the first issue of Walking Dead was released. That first issue came out in October of 2003 and 28 Days Later was released in the States in June of 2003. So we were working on our second issue by the time I saw it. It was going to be a matter of somehow trying to restage the entire first issue, because it was a very similar coma opening. I made a decision—which I pretty much regret at this point—I said, “You know what? It’s so different [from that point on], I will probably never hear anything about this.” And I was wrong.
EW: So when you saw the movie you must have thought, “Oh s—!”
RK: Yeah. It was a little annoying. But great minds think alike, right?
The idea of zombies coming around because of some sort of massive infection really took off after the popularity of this movie. It also helped to relaunch zombies in the modern Hollywood landscape. All very good. It is a bit hard to buy that the infection would take people over so incredibly quickly though. As a story telling device it works brilliantly so I can’t really complain. Ha. Even the bad in this movie is good.
Well here it is. I’ve got to say it. Because a lot of us have said it over time but it’s hard to come to grips with.This isn’t actually a zombie movie. GASP!
The people infected with rage aren’t dead. They are just sick and running around hurting people because of what the virus has done to their heads. In that regard it joins movies like Legend and the Crazies in the almost-a-zombie-movie-but-not-quite category. Now, why they don’t attack each other and only go after uninfected people seems a bit of a mystery to me. How they stay alive so long while puking their guts out is also a mystery to me but this is fiction after all. So even though it’s not a zombie film and just a crazy infected mob story, I’m willing to go ahead and say that at some point in the story telling the infected humans went from seeming like infected people to basically acting like zombies. One good example of how they are not like actual zombies is that they can be killed like any other human and the military boys managed to knock one out cold which isn’t possible with zombies.
According to the 28 Days Later Wiki they are NOT dead and simply resemble zombies.