Cert: 18 Runtime: 113 mins Director: Danny Boyle Cast: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson and Christopher Ecclestone
Oh, great. Valium. Not only will we be able to go to sleep, if we get attacked in the middle of the night, we won’t even care
So possibly the second best British zombie movie after Shaun of the Dead, but at the same time it does show Danny Boyel’s diversity as a director. Animal activists invade a laboratory with the intention of releasing chimpanzees that are undergoing experimentation, infected by a virus -a virus that causes rage. The naive activists ignore the pleas of a scientist to keep the cages locked, with disastrous results. Twenty-eight days later, our protagonist, Jim (Cillian Murphy), wakes up from a coma, alone, in an abandoned hospital. He begins to seek out anyone else to find London is deserted, apparently without a living soul. After finding a church, which had become inhabited by zombie like humans intent on his demise, he runs for his life. Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley) rescue him from the horde and bring him up to date on the mass carnage and horror as all of London tore itself apart. This is a tale of survival and ultimately, heroics, with nice subtext about mankind’s savage nature.The movie slowly lets us see what happens and slowly suggests answers to those questions. It unfolds not like a harsh killfest, but like poetry.
We are with the main character, Jim, as he wakes up, having no idea where to go or where anyone is. He wanders the starkly empty streets, alone, hoping to find someone who can help,and somewhere to go. He encounters the infected, and he meets some people…All with their own view of their situation and ways of dealing with it. Some live to survive. Some live in despair. Some live with hope.It’s situations like this that are touching. Thanks in part to a wonderful score, the story gives us many moments to take in. Jim heads out to see if his parents are okay. Another man puts out a beacon of Christmas lights on his empty apartment in hopes of finding other survivors. We watch in sympathy as one person remembers a simple, pointless breakfast with the family he/she will never see again. We quietly smile in hope as someone plows their way through a dangerous roadblock through sheer determination for a better place. We close our eyes in defeat as another person who has so much hope and even more to live for still succumbs to the disease due to the most chance of situations. Moments like these- sadness, warmth, hope, despair- are rife in this film, and it is through such moments that it truly feels like a realistic account of what could honestly happen.It is a very human story, and I say that because although there are scenes of violence and death, this overcomes the boundary of “horror flick” by focusing most on the people, their plight, and the moments that matter to them.
The acting is thoroughly good as well, with everyone asking realistic questions and doing things that appeal to us in some way or another. There are some characters near the end for example who have their own idea of survival and what it takes, and even though their ideas are horrible we can still understand why they have them. My only gripe with the film is minor. I enjoyed it all the way, and was satisfied by the last few frames. But the actual climactic event, which takes place in a mansion, was a little frenzied. I don’t mind violence or anything, and there are sudden scenes in the rest of the film where things get wild, but the final major event is very harsh and sustained. It makes sense, it’s just not as reserved as most of the rest of the film so be forewarned.In all, I found this movie entirely good. Don’t expect the bloodiest or scariest movie ever, but be content with some of both inside a much more mature and emotional film, and you should be happy. I definitely was, and found it one of the most thought-provoking and moving dramas, or horror films, in a long time.