Tall, Dark, and Dead – 2 – 28 Days Later

Title: 28 Days Later
Year: 2002
Director: Danny Boyle
Leads: Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson

Favorite quote: “The end is extremely f**king nigh.”

Thoughts: Fast zombies > slow zombies.

Of course, there’s still much debate about whether or not the infected characters in 28 Days Later deserve the zombie label. Personally, I believe that they do, for reasons that will become clearer the longer this project goes on.

I thought this’d be a great film to compare to White Zombie – voodoo model zombies vs. virus model zombies! The final showdown! On another level, we’d really be talking about the comparison of two different sets of “living” zombies – fabulous. (And it’s fun to realize that these two films, separated in time by seventy years, are both dealing with the idea of living zombies – the controlled and the infected, both enslaved by outside forces, but neither truly dead.)

But ultimately, as I watched, I ended up comparing the films’ respective atmospheres and value systems.

I love the visuals in 28 Days – especially the beginning. From the first shot of Jim waking up alone in a nest of medical equipment, the film firmly establishes itself as being primarily about isolation. Isolation has become a key part of the zombie equation, after Romero so masterfully handled it in Night, but 28 Days Later takes it to a nationwide, apocalyptic level. Even the government is gone. If you find help, it screws you over. Anyone can turn on you at any time. The movie really excels in its quiet, reflective scenes of profound isolation and grief.

Furthermore, the film takes the virus model of zombification to the extreme – for the Rage Virus doesn’t kill its victims, or make them cannibalistic. It just makes them completely freaking insane. There is no cure. There is no answer. There’s nothing to tether the experience to reality, no real background information available to the main characters – just a terrifying, cold, unexpected smack of “WTF?” standing outside their doors. This is the modern vision of zombies.

In White Zombie, on the other hand, there is a cause for the plague – one cause. One man, the voodoo master. There’s an unspoken understanding that good people, working together, can overcome his evil and destroy (or possibly free) his creations. Therefore, there is hope. There is no such hope in 28 Days Later, although the final third of the film does end up touching upon the main theme present in White Zombie – control.

Links:
28 Days Later at IMDB
28 Days Later on Wikipedia

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