Before I begin my review, of sorts, I want to get something very clear: zombie movies and I do not get along. I think its mostly because in the case of the majority of 'horror creatures', there is some reason why they are the way they are. Zombies appear to be zombies just, well, for the sake of being zombies, and subsequently I find my disbelief just doesn't suspend. Also, there's that annoying horror movie convention of no matter how fast you run and how slowly they plod, they will still eat you eventually...
The reason I liked 28 Days Later, apart from the stunning visuals of deserted London, is because it gave the zombies a reason to be zombies, in the form of the Rage virus. The zombies also run. Really, really fast.
Anyway. In very brief summary, if you're deciding whether or not to see it, here's what happens:
Americans come in. Americans fuck up. Americans bomb the shit out of everything.
Just like real life. The allegory for the Iraq situation is painfully clear, and also works extremely well. The American armed forces treat the infection like a war, and resort to the final tactic of "if it moves, shoot it."
Anyway, that aside: the beginning of the film sets the scene very nicely with ominous music and a Small Child of Doom. The ominous is soon replaced with carnage, and is shot very effectively with blurred, chaotic filming where you can't see exactly what's going on and your imagination fills in the gaps.
At the start, Robert Carlyle's character (Don) leaves his wife and the aforementioned Small Child to be eaten by the infected while he runs for the nearest river and managest to escape. The scene then changes to America-controlled London, with a safe zone built on the Isle of Dogs, and Don's children coming back home from a school trip to newly decontaminated London.
The images of the deserted capital are as effective as last time, with added touches: soldiers cleaning out houses with big bags labelled 'Biohazard'; the words "I AM HERE" spray painted onto the roof of a house. In the centre of it is a new, modern micro-city filled with 25-storey apartment blocks and armed by GIs with big guns. It's a brilliant contrast to the peacefulness of the countryside as seen in the opening sequence. There is also the vaguest hint that for all this effort, it's not going to be enough...
Don's children escape the safe zone and head off to their old house to get personal possessions, whereupon the son (Andy) encounters their apparently dead mother. The kids are then subsequently recaptured and confined to quarantine, along with their mother.
The US medical officer figures out that the mother is infected with the virus, without showing any symptoms, and realises it must be because of some kind of natural, genetic immunity. This turns out to be mismatched eye-colour (one green, one brown), which is also shared by Andy. Despite her best efforts to the contrary - they could make a cure or even a vaccination - her male superior decides that, symptoms or not, Andy's mother has to be destroyed because she's a carrier of the Rage virus. Bloody typical.
The gorefest steps in at this point. Don goes to visit his wife, whereupon he kisses her and the saliva transfers the virus to him. He kills her brutally, ripping her throat out with his teeth and popping her eyeballs. (I had to look away; it's horrible. Also, see subject.)
And then, chaos ensues. The Us Army instigate Code Red and gather all the citizens - without telling them anything - into a safe, sealed place... which Don breaks into and infects a bunch of people. The uninfected break down the doors and run out into the streets, at which point the US Army give up trying to find their actual targets and shoot everyone.
Some people - including the CMO (Scarlett), Andy and his sister (Tam) - hide out in what looks like a supplies silo, where they are joined by Friendly GI #1 (I think he was called Doyle, but for ease of refence he is henceforth Friendly GI #1), who helps them escape. Friendly GI #2 (a helicopter pilot) informs them that the place will be firebombed in exactly four minutes. Whilst trying to escape, another sniper tries to shoot them down.
It really shows the ineptitude and trigger-happy attitude of the US Army in this sequence (and also in an earlier scene, where a soldier complains that he wants to shoot things), as well as the idea that, when it inevitably goes wrong, they will have no qualms about killing innocent civilians and destroying the landscape of another country's city in order to solve the problem. It's a very effective film in this sense, and I hope the message is so easily recognised across the pond...
Of course, Friendly GI #1 ends up dead (by fire during chemical warfare), and Scarlett gets eaten by Donr. Only an infected Andy (who shares his mother's genetic eye abnormality) and Tam remain, as they make their way to the new Wembley Stadium to be picked up by Friendly GI #2 and taken across the channel.
The ending of the film has left it open for another sequel, with the virus having been transferred from Andy to cause an outbreak in Paris, another "28 days later". Whilst I'm certain that images of a familiarly deserted Paris would be beautiful and eerie in the same way as in 28 Days Later, I don't think it's a good idea to try and franchise it. I was worried enough that this sequel would be below par, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it added enough new originality to pull off the idea of the virus returning. It is now a virus which cannot be killed off due to certain humans' immunity to it, which would make an interesting idea for a future film, but too many cooks spoil the broth. The viewer is left with a semi-satisfying sense that the virus will continue to spread - France, then mainland Europe, then America as more US Armed Forces come in to help out...
Mostly, I don't think they can do a trequel because the titles of both films have been based on the amount of time which has passed, respectively, for the virus to spread, and for disinfection to commence. Given that the ending tag line is, again, "28 days later", they don't have a title for the next one...
My favourite moment by far wasn't even part of the film. There was a man sitting a few seats behind us who gave a very amusing running commentary in parts; firstly for the Carling advert with multiple hands playing a piano, he said "As if anyone who drinks Carling could play the piano..." When the mother of the kids had been found and Don was informed (him having left his wife for dead and told his children that he helplessly watched her die), the bloke said, "Ooh, he's in
trouble now!" - which was precisely what I was thinking... It makes a change for the annoying talking person to at least be vaguely entertaining. :)
So, there we go. More a summary than a review, but yeah.
We saw all the upcoming horror/gore trailers, obviously. Captivity looks quite good, although it's obviously a blatant rip-off of the successful format of Saw, whereas Paradise Lost is basically Hostel on a tropical island. Also, Die Hard 4.0 looks really, really rubbish.
Bonus point, by the way, to anyone who guesses my subject quote.
In other news, my low mood appears to have lifted a bit, aided in part by reading fanfiction, and making a good start on my Ugly Betty fic. I'm very tempted to post the first five or so chapters up to the natural break in the narrative on the Daniel/Betty community as a Part One to see how it goes down... Anyway, the low mood can be attributed, apparently, to forgetting to take my Pill on Saturday / Sunday and subsequently confusing my hormones very much indeed. I'll take that as a lesson for next time...
Keep an eye on your journal / LJ / FaceBook, because I'm going to be posting something Very Important this weekend...