‘Your days are numbered’
28 Days Later… is a 2002 British horror feature film directed by Danny Boyle from a screenplay by Alex Garland. The movie stars Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, and Christopher Eccleston.
A critical and commercial success, the film is credited with reinvigorating the zombie sub-genre. It spawned a 2007 sequel, 28 Weeks Later, a graphic novel titled 28 Days Later: The Aftermath, which expands on the timeline of the outbreak, and a 2009 comic book series 28 Days Later.
28 Days Later was a considerable success at the box office and became highly profitable on a budget of about £5 million. In the UK, it took in £6.1 million, while in the US it became a surprise hit, taking over $45 million despite a limited release at fewer than 1,500 screens across the country. The film garnered around $82.7 million worldwide.
Animal liberation activists break into a laboratory in Cambridge and are caught by a scientist while trying to free some chimpanzees being used for medical research. Despite the warnings of the chief scientist that the chimps are infected with a virus dubbed “Rage,” which he claims is highly contagious, the activists open the cages anyway. A chimp attacks a female activist and immediately infects her, and she in turn infects the other members of the group, including the chief scientist when he attempts to kill her.
28 days after the events, a bicycle courier named Jim (Cillian Murphy) awakens from a coma in St Thomas’ Hospital. He finds the hospital deserted and seemingly empty. Outside, he discovers London deserted with signs of catastrophe everywhere. Jim then wanders into a seemingly abandoned church, only to alert a small group of Rage-infected people who were hiding there. As he tries to approach a priest who’s been infected, they spot him and try to attack him, giving chase. At the last minute, he is saved by Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley).
Afterwards, they rush him to their hideout in the London Underground. There they reveal that while Jim was comatose from his accident, an unknown virus spread uncontrollably among the populace, turning most people into rabid, psychotic “infected,” resulting in societal collapse…
“Zombie movie? Political allegory? Humanist drama? 28 Days Later is all of those things and more – a genuine work of art by a director at the top of his game. What’s so amazing about the film is the way it so expertly balances scenes of white-knuckled, hell-for-leather horror with moments of intimate beauty.” Bloody Disgusting
“Danny Boyle’s purposeful direction and Mark Tildesley’s imaginative and resourceful production design keep this fresh and edgy; the images of a wasted London and the details of a paramilitary organization in the countryside are both creepy and persuasive.” Chicago Reader
“The best purely British horror/science-fiction film in decades. And the first great apocalypse movie of the new millennium.” Empire
” … taps into millennial fears about chemical warfare and viral outbreaks. The film suggests that anger has become the defining emotional response in capitalist societies; ‘Rage’ is not an abstract monster, or based on the usual factors that cause violence such as race, religion or gender. Rather, it is a social condition that has no defining boundaries, a new kind of intolerance that is in all of us.” Stephen Jilks, Red Weed
“Shot on MiniDV to emphasize the grubby, post-apocalyptic ugliness, the film is a marvel of handheld camerawork and jittery editing. But in the wake of 9/11’s jolting tragedy, this prescient horror film also spoke to unconscious anxieties about a world in which simmering tensions and seething paranoia felt like a terrible new normal.” Tim Grierson, Rolling Stone
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“Director Boyle and writer Alex Garland admitted to drawing inspiration from George A. Romero’s Dead film series, and in a few places it’s obvious, like they when they introduce a fanatical major (Christopher Eccleston) who threatens anyone who challenges his authority and keeps a Rage-infected soldier in chains a la Bub in Day of the Dead (1985). In fact, 28 Days Later was marketed as a “reinvention” of the zombie sub-genre. Whatever it is, it’s a masterpiece.” Glenn Kay, Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide, Chicago Review Press, 2008
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