28 Weeks Later Review
Country : United Kingdom
Running Time: 99 minutes
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox
Six months after the horrific rage epidemic that decimated England, a degree of normalcy is being restored, but the terror is far from over....
Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. Written by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Rowan Joffe and Jesus Olmo. Starring Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton.
28 Days Later was one of the surprise hits of 2002; its rage-infected hordes proved a hit with critics and took the box office by storm, paving the way for a new generation of post apocalyptic horror films. Five years on we now have the sequel, imaginatively titled 28 Weeks Later, and although original director Danny Boyle has stepped back to the role of producer, new director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Intacto) must be commended for significantly upping the ante, making a sequel which is epic, violent and above all, genuinely scary.
The film kicks off during the original outbreak, Don (Robert Carlyle) and his wife Alice have barracaded themselves into a farmhouse with a group of other survivors. Life is relatively comfortable despite group tensions starting to simmer. Their peace is shattered by the arrival of a young boy who is being persued by the infected. As the ravenous horde begin to assault the farmhouse the walls come crashing down, forcing Don to make an agonising decision (which I wonít spoil) as he makes a hasty escape. This sequence is one of the most bone crunchingly intense openings to a horror film... ever. The use of hand held cameras is disorientating but gives the attack a real sense of urgency, as Don flees towards the river the tension becomes heart stoppingly unbearable. The sequence ends with titles appearing, outlining the timeline from the outbreak of infection to the quarantine of Britain, the arrival of American-led NATO troops, the last of the infected dying of starvation, the planning of repopulating and finally 28 weeks later...
The American army has now started to cleanse Britain and have repopulated a small section of London (The Isle of Dogs), whih is a designated ďGreen ZoneĒ and highly secure. The newest batch of people coming in to repopulate includes Donís children who were evacuated during the initial outbreak, and they find their father working in the zone as a maintanence man. The arrival of the children starts a cataclysmic chain of events which sees the return of the infection, and as the army starts to lose control, all hell breaks loose, forcing the children to attempt an escape from London with the help of an army sniper (Jeremy Renner) and an army scientist (Rose Byrne), who believes the childrenís blood may contain a cure for the infection.
The film that is most comparable to this sequel is Aliens. Like Cameronís film, this has more guns, more explosions and more scenes of carnage than the original, but retains all the things that made the first film great. The deserted shots of London still remain, including some haunting scenes at the new Wembley Stadium, and the infected remain as ferocious and frightening as before. The new stuff is pretty good too, with scenes that are only hinted at by characters in the original being shown in all their bloody glory, such as the infected mixing with a large crowd of fleeing civillians. The inclusion of the American army is also welcome with huge amounts of weaponary on show such as napalm and flamethrowers. A scene involving rooftop snipers being ordered to fire on civillians and infected alike is spectacular, but also brings uneasy comparisons with footage from real combat zones like Iraq, especially in the directors use of nightvision cameras. This heavy-handed subtext of American foreign policy is perhaps the only criticism of the film (if itís the UN why arenít there more international troops?)
One of the most admirable things about the film is it's R rating. It would have been much more financially viable to try and get the younger demographic, especially given the 5 year break between this and the first film, but it sticks to the ethos of the first film allowing for some truly memorable gore scenes, including a scene with a helicopter and a field full of the infected which is truly jaw dropping. This adds to the overall intensity and apocalyptic atmosphere of the film, which includes a memorably downbeat ending. The acting also deserves credit, Robet Carlyle is as excellent as ever, and credit must go to Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton for playing two movie children who arenít annoying, as well as Jeremy Renner for his sympathetic portrayal of an army sniper.
All in all I give this film two well-earned thumbs up. Its scary, action packed, well directed and well acted, and I urge every horror fan to get out and see it. As for the possibility of a trilogy, all I can say is roll on 28 Months LaterÖ
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Review by Chrisy Black, for Pitofhorror.com