Review: 28 Weeks Later (2007)

D: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
S: Catherine McCormack, Robert Carlyle, Harold Perrineau

First, let me start off by saying that I was pretty much underwhelmed by 28 Days Later. It was an okay movie, but I couldn't really figure out whether it wanted to be a zombie movie, a generic horror movie, or an arthouse flick. I found the story light, the characters relatively unsympathetic, and just couldn't buy into the movie as a whole.

That said, 28 Weeks Later knows what it is. It's really a post-apocalyptic story, about how people try to move on with their lives after experiencing something so horrible that it resulted in the entirety of Great Britain to be evacuated. And, at the same time, it's also a zombie movie (well, a "fast zombie" movie with due respect to Mr. Romero), with the requisite amounts of blood, horror, and death. The beginning of the movie, set during the Rage outbreak, grabs you from the very beginning, and you see the decisions and choices that someone would have to make in such a chaotic and life-threatening situation - decisions that we all might make differently, but either way there's no "right" or "wrong" choice. And no matter which decision you make, you will likely regret it for the rest of your life. Fast forward to the eponymous 28 weeks later, and we get to see a part of London being repopulated after the virus has burned itself out.

The choice that sets up this movie is made by Don, who hides out in a small house with his wife and several other survivors. A child appears at the door of the house, and the residents foolishly allow him entry - needless to say, the child is infected with Rage, and the former safe-house turns into a slaughterhouse. Don is forced into a fight-or-flight decision, and chooses to leave his wife and the other residents of the house in order to save his own life. Later, he claims to his children (who were in Spain during the outbreak) that he did everything he could - a lie, but a necessary one. The children then decide, after being relocated to the quarantine zone, to go back to their home (for some barely plausible reason).

The portrayal of the US military in the movie is predictable, though a little uneven. We're supposed to believe these guys are (in general) shoot-it-if-it-moves automatons, but somehow and for some bizarre reason, they let two kids out of the quarantine zone. Granted, it's a necessary plot conceit, but still it seems completely counter to the initial setup of the military mind in the film. Of course, the kids run off (as kids are wont to do), and find their mom...still alive and apparently untouched by the virus. Cue threatening music.

The government, of course, quarantines her as soon as she returns from the countryside, and begins probing her incessantly. It turns out she's a "Typhoid Mary" - carrying the Rage virus within her but completely unaffected by it. The government, of course, thinks they can create a vaccination from her peculiar blood, and it's just that kind of thinking that dooms London all over again. Needless to say, someone gets into her quarantine, becomes infected, and spreads the newly-reinvigorated Rage virus throughout the newly-returned populace.

From here, chaos reigns supreme, as group after group of former survivors are turned into Rage-induced psychotics. The military does a fairly handy job of taking them down, using firebombs, flamethrowers, and automatic weapons. Those who survive attempt to make it to Wembley Stadium for evacuation. Here again, someone's ethics misfire, and against orders they take action that instead of saving two lives may in fact doom the entire world.

The direction and cinematography are beautiful (as they were in 28 Days Later, the only thing I enjoyed about the previous movie). The acting is decent overall, and the children aren't too terribly annoying. The few faults in the storyline are pretty big, but overall it's an entertaining ride.