Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later is a unique film experience, one that I bought hook, line and sinker. From the opening scenes of a lone Cillian Murphy walking the deserted streets of London (some truly terrifying imagery) to the exciting conclusion at the estate house where man is just as evil and deadly as the rage infected "zombies", I found the whole thing to be a trip and a half. It also introduced the fast zombie to the film lexicon, even though it is a contradiction terms. (And there isn't a single use of "the zed word" in the entire film).
Word struck out a while back that a sequel was planned. It was to be called 28 Weeks Later. Danny Boyle would not be directing, and Alex Garland would not be scripting. Alarm bells went off in the hearts and minds of film geeks (or "fanboys") everywhere. What was to become of this small, dark little horror movie we've come to love? Is it just going to become another cog in a machine, like the Saw movies? Just another quick buck that totally sullies anything good about the original?
Well, my friends, I caught a glimpse of the film. The first 28 minutes or so. And I'm proud to report that my fears are placed firmly off to the far side. What could it be to possibly change my mind?
First and foremost, it does not feel like a sell out movie. From what I've seen, this is most definitely a continuation of the world presented in the original. Much like Romero's "Dead" films, there's a large world dealing with the situation at hand, with plenty of different stories to be told. 28 Weeks Later is expanding the scope of the original film, by showing the aftermath. (In case you couldn't get that from the title). Helping assauge my fears is Boyle's involvement. While it might not be calling the shots, he seems to have placed his faith in the extremely capable hands of director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, a visually gifted Spanish director. If the remaining 90 or so minutes are as captivating as the first 28, then we're all in for a treat.
What I saw began small and intimate. A group of survivors are in a home that is boarded up, protecting them from the rage infected masses in the outside world. There are no survivalists to be found, just normal people trapped in a terrible situation. We have no idea how long these folk have been holed up here. All we know is that Robert Carlyle is among them, and that's usually a good sign for any movie.
The survivors are sitting down for dinner when they hear a boy outside yelling for help. This is naturally followed by an attack. And oh my, what an attack it is. It's frantic, and crazy and brutal, and the onslaught seems never ending. This scene alone had me hooked. I can't give away particulars, but some of the shots of a character running across an open field with more and more infected attackers (I can't in good faith say zombies) coming freaked me out as much as those abandoned London scenes.
From here, we are told the time line involved with the events of the infection, bringing us to the aforementioned title. It is now 28 weeks later, and London is beginning to rebuild itself, despite almost total ruin. An American military team is leading the brigade in this rehabilitation. (I feel this move will lend itself to some social satire, but as I love to keep mentioning I only caught the first 28 minutes, so I can neither confirm nor deny such satire will exist, this is merely speculation). We're introduced to a few of the key military officials, including the yummy Rose Byrne as we're also introduced to the plan for bringing back residents to the hopefully safe city environment. Two of the incoming residents are Robert Carlyle's children, who were on a trip overseas when the initial outbreak occurred. They all hope to rebuild their lives while London around also builds up.
After a nicely done emotional scene between the three of them, the footage ended. My peaceful frame of mind had been disturbed, as what was shown before my eyes piqued my curiosity and I wanted more. In those 28 minutes (oh wait... I get it now!) enough was shown to make me realize the film has a lot more on it's mind than robbing me of my hard earned money. It wants to tell another story of the world I entered into with the first one. Now I am more keen to let it.
I was told a few things about the scope of the film, and certain story items were addressed (including the origin of the infection, and what it actually does), but overall I don't want to spoil anymore. For you or myself. I can say with great joy that this has moved up the ranks on the summer must see list. (It could move to the top if they had fighting robots that shot webs, and seeing as how there are still two months left in post, that could happen. Knock on wood). While I have to wait and see how this one finishes up, I can say with confidence that it will be a time worth spending in a darkened theater full of strangers. It looks like the performances, story, and visual elements will all add up to a fun flick.
And who knows, maybe if a 28 Months Later is greenlit a few years down the line, I won't automatically dismiss it.
28 Weeks Later will open on May 11th at a theater near YOU! But if you want an early fix, there will be a graphic novel coming even sooner, with stories written by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night). Fun times.