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An Intense, Chilling & Thought-Provoking Modern Horror
28 Weeks Later (DVD)
Member Name: missrarr
28 Weeks Later (DVD)
Advantages: Fabulous plot, brilliant acting from a cast of strong or little-known performers, totally engrossing
Disadvantages: Some strong and gory horror here - definitely an 18
***Film Only Review***
Some years after the ground-breaking 28 Days Later came the sequel, 28 Weeks Later.
Anyone who has seen the dark, stripped-down, ominous scenario portrayed whereby our little island became overrun with the "rage" virus will know that this isn't going to be a barrel of laughs, and from the outset this film is dark and tense.
Originally tested on apes in a laboratory before one was freed by animal activists, the Rage virus ripped through the UK civilisation and ultimately saw humanity reduced to its most feral and fundamental in the first film. Transferred by blood, it reduces the victims to raging, violent, murderous beasts, not shuffling like zombies but with equal lethal intent but frenetic and fast and desperate in their murderous urges. The spread was so quick, so thorough, that the uninfected were soon forced into hiding, with no support from the army or outside countries, relying on luck and their own stealth for survival.
The opening frames, let alone scene, are pivotal to the plot. A match is struck, and lights the face of a woman, who you can clearly see has eyes that are different colours, one green, one brown.
It soon becomes apparent that the owner of these striking eyes is the significant other of Robert Carlisle's character. They are in a boarded-up farmhouse with a group of other people, the differences between whom suggest instantly that they are barricaded together by necessity and survival rather than choice - so anyone who has seen the first film can tell straight away, as the group make a "luxury" meal of what they could find in the house they have sheltered in, that the Rage virus is still rampant outside. Within minutes tensions between the group rise as one girl's refusal to accept the loss of her boyfriend causes an argument with her fellow survivor. Then, a frantic knocking on the door sounds, accompanied by the desperate shouts of a child seeking sanctuary. The group hesitate, knowing what could be outside, then risk letting the child in.
The first shock of the film comes as the child tells how he reached them, that he was being chased, as he desperately wolfs down food. The blonde girl who is mourning the loss of her boyfriend risks moving some cloth that fills a gap between two boards of wood, and suddenly an infected victim appears, and their quiet sanctuary is instantly ruined as the hoardes of infected invade.
Within seconds the house is overrun and Carlisle's wife tries to save the child who has come into the house. The infected come between Carlisle and his wife and the child, and he runs. A breathtaking dramatic scene sees the fantastic score of this film kick in as Carlisle runs for his life towards a boat waiting at the bottom of a hill as hoardes of the raging beasts that once were human pursue him, and somehow he makes a breathless, lonely escape as everyone else seems perished behind him, including his beloved wife.
As the title suggests, this film is set 28 weeks after infection. Graphics tell us that the infected started to starve after five weeks, and that a NATO-led American force took over London to try to reintegrate people into Britain soon after, starting with a small, secure section of the city to which people would be gradually reintroduced.
We next see American soldiers on patrol joking and this is our first sight of Jeremy Renner, in what had to be one of his breakthrough roles that has now seen him in the cast of the Avengers Assemble movie currently flying high in the global charts. Here he plays Doyle, initially another joking American troop but later a far more integral character.
We next see a woman, Scarlet, (Rose Byrne) watch two children. She is a military scientist, who had not been told that they were admitting children to the new complex. The children she had just seen were the tall, lithe blonde teenage girl and her slightly younger brother who are the offspring of Don (Carlisle) and his wife, Alice. Played by the brilliantly-named Imogen Poots (Tammy) and Mackintosh Muggleton (Andy), they are put straight through military checks and we next see Scarlet noting that Andy carries the same eye colour variation that his mother had. Everything at this point of the film is cold, efficient and just what you would expect from a portrayal of a military reintegration of a society into a controlled area. It is not until Tammy and Andy are reintroduced to Don that we see gentle, affectionate human interaction, as it seems not only did Don survive his ordeal alone but also made contact with other humans enough to have found himself employment at the new facility in London, giving him freedom throughout the complex. Before then, we hear through a recorded voice on the train that transports the returning civilians that they are forbidden from leaving their new living area and crossing the river from London's Isle of Dogs due to the lack of security, but that they have their own little society, "even a pub", waiting for them.
This stark situation is underlined by aerial shots of a devastated London, and footage of military staff trying to rebuild a ruined city, and the boredom amongst the ranks of soldiers enlisted to guard the new facility is shown through their camaraderie and tendencies to watch their charges through the windows of their new homes. All in all this creates a very cold, alien environment and there is little sense amongst those present about being glad to be "home", more trying to adjust to an entirely new society.
Scarlet instantly makes her concerns about the reintegration of children known; is the disease completely eradicated? Her concerns are answered simply; if the disease returns, it's a Code Red, responded to by swift military intervention. It seems her voice of concern is the only one.
Don is faced with a deep emotional issue which counters his joy at seeing his children; he has to lie to them about the death of their mother. He knows that, when they were attacked, he ran rather than try to save her, even though the situation had seemed hopeless at the time. He also has to tell the children that they will never go "home" to their London house, as it was outside of the security zone and that he would not want to return regardless.
Tammy isn't exactly rebellious but she is a strong-willed teenage girl, who leads her little brother, who is brilliantly portrayed by the young actor, on a forbidden jaunt outside of the perimeters of the compound. Doyle spies them as they make their escape, heading to their old home. During these scenes the devastation outside of the compound is underlined, with bodies still littering buildings and the entirety of the old civilisation just devoid of humanity and awaiting eventual rebuild. Initially shocked, Tammy presses on with her intention of taking her brother back to their childhood home, although what they find there could never be imagined by either youngster, throwing their faith in their father into doubt and changing the plot of the entire film.
There is little point in trying to avoid what happens in this film - but if you would rather be surprised then this might be a good part to skip. Yes, of course there is another outbreak of Rage, and it is this which brings out the strength of the characters of Scarlet and Doyle who take it upon themselves to try to save the two youngest people in the country when chaos breaks loose again, this time not outside the supposed safe zones but inside it. The initial appeal to many of 28 Days Later was that it soon wasn't just the infected that were the threat to survivors, but those in charge of the military, and this new approach to the same tale gives another approach to that which is equally, if not more chilling and, due to the success of the first film, able to be filmed on a much grander scale.
To hark back to the characters, it is under this extreme situation that Jeremy Renner becomes, for me, outstanding as Doyle, whilst Scarlet is a wholly committed and believable character. Both young actors deserve high praise for their thoroughly believable portrayals of Tammy and Andy.
I loved this film, possibly more so than the predecessor. I like a variety of films so my appreciation for this film is not merely down to the grander scale on which it is executed, I merely think there is more depth to the plot than the first film, which I found deeply disturbing and visceral. This has elements of that too but I like that, rather than just be a let down, it holds its own against a remarkable first film by taking the concepts behind it - of our vulnerability as an island and a society in such situations, and the possibility of military rule going out of control - to a new level of consideration.
I love the filming style. It's cold and raw, with amazing aerial shots of London, a city I love a great deal, showing it to be the familiar landscape providing the starting point of a scary and alien new society. The use of cold blue light in some of the lab scenes allows the deep brown eyes of Rose Byrne to convey her concerns with close-up camera work whilst also setting a clinical, chilling environment, and the American military presence is initially ominously overprotective and domineering, setting the scene for their later reaction to a return of the Rage virus.
I think that the casting is remarkably good, with, as I said earlier, particular plaudits to the previously little-known Jeremy Renner as Doyle. For me, Doyle is one of those moments of cinematic brilliance whereby a little-known actor puts forth a fabulous portrayal of a pivotal and well-written character, perfectly understanding that he needs to show not just the conflict between duty and morals of the man himself and how he deals with that process, but also being absolutely essential in documenting the human effect of the scariest concept behind this film - not just the blood-thirsty, enraged victims but that our danger in a situation like this, being a small, secluded island society, could also come from our fellow survivors and those in who we put our trust to protect us.
This is a fabulously unnerving film. The Rage victims are scary, filmed with a very disturbing stop-start action that fully portrays the chaos and danger that they bring, and as in the first film, our beautiful capital city is used to great effect to show the stark and desperate situation our characters find themselves in as various shots are filmed with nobody but them, or the infected, in the usually rammed streets.
There is a deeply disturbing scene that I find hard to watch, so this, as a certificate 18, might be best watched through before you let anyone younger view it in the "safety" of your own home. The effects are brilliantly convincing and there is no fault that I can find with this film; you sympathise and root for the main characters yet at no point, particularly if you have seen the first film, do you feel safe to assume you will find a happy ending.
The film never lags, but grows in intensity after the stripped-down, almost documentary-style portrayal of the rebuild of the city, but the feeling of imminent danger is already set by the terrifying farmhouse invasion and chase that claimed the mother of Tammy and Andy. With a pedigree behind the camera that includes Danny Boyle, who instigated the first film, and Alex Garland of The Beach, it is no surprise that this is so brilliantly done.
If you like your horror movies to have intellect and an intensity that goes beyond gore and shock but that will instead stay with you for days after viewing, this could well be the film for you.
Widely available - £2.63 DVD via Amazon, also on Blueray and as a double film pack with 28 Days Later.
Duration 95 minutes
***Includes strobe lighting***
***Certificate 18 - contains strong bloody violence and gore***
Summary: A hugely effective modern horror - and for once a sequel that holds its own against the original