28 Days Later

In the theater there is no Fast Forward button
★★
☆☆☆☆
Released: 
2002
Director: 
Danny Boyle
Starring: 
Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris
The Setup: 
Fast-moving zombies want nothing more than to puke on you.
Discussion: 

I was very disappointed in this movie. It is dull. It is not scary. It has very few ideas, once you get past the main ones. I think it's safe to say that, despite what the ads promised, zombie horror remains steadfastly NOT re-invented, nor is this "Scary as Hell."

The problems begin soon after Jim, our protagonist, awakes. He wanders around empty London for like five minutes, as I thought "This is getting boring." Then the ALT-ROCK SOUNDTRACK (it survived the apocalypse!!) kicks in, and then he wanders around empty London for FIVE MORE MINUTES!!!! This is endemic of the whole movie: large, long sections with NO new ideas. I saw this in the theater, so every time I reached for the fast-forward button, it just wasn’t there.

The zombies aren't that scary. The fact that they run fast adds surprisingly little, and it makes the slow moving zombies of previous movies just scarier. You know, dogs run fast. People run fast. Average movie monsters run fast. So these zombies running fast just made them more generic. And... what do they WANT? They want to puke blood on you? Doesn't make a lot of sense. I mean, I want to puke blood on people, so having zombies want to do it doesn’t give me that much of a thrill.

I did notice that Jim, who woke up with half his head shaved from the hospital, apparently found time amid all that constant running from zombies to get himself a chic hipster haircut.

I think the writer and director had a few interesting overall ideas and felt like that was enough, there was no need to develop them or come up with new stuff to keep it interesting. With an hour to go, I considered leaving (as many in my audience already had), asking myself "Do I really need to know how this ends?" In retrospect, no, I did not. I haven’t seen any of the additional endings on the DVD, because a) I don’t care, and b) I could never possibly sit through this movie again.

I think what the reviewers who gave this one such positive reviews at the time were responding to is the originality and intrigue of the premise, and overlooking much of the result. As well as thinking it might be cool to give zombie movies a chance, since Dawn of the Dead [original] has grown so much in estimation since its release. Let's give the critics credit... they ARE required to sit through From Justin To Kelly, so anything a little bit different must look a lot better by comparison.

Towards the end there is an extremely ugly and vulgar subplot involving the gang rape of a young teen girl that in my opinion mars the movie as a whole. While it may make sense that this kind of thing could happen in the case of a zombie apocalypse, I also think that this is a movie, and there are plenty of other aspects left to explore without having to go to that particularly nasty and misogynistic extreme. I suspect the writer and director think they're being "Hard Hitting," but it supplies more evidence that they confuse the jolt of shock and disgust with a genuine reaction.

I also think that arguments about “what would happen in a zombie apocalypse” are specious from the start because zombie apocalypses don’t really happen. And if they did, Romero already showed us quite clearly and believably what would happen twenty years ago in both Dawn and Day of the Dead.

Sometime after seeing this movie I rented Trainspotting for the first time, and think that there's another example (like Silence of the Lambs) where the strength of the cast and script really is what makes the movie. That is to say; not the direction.

Should you watch it: 

Not if you ask me. But if you must see it at all, say for completionist reasons, be sure to have the sanctuary of a nearby fast-forward button.