Tuesday, June 19, 2007

28 Weeks Later

One of the best films of the year is “28 Weeks Later” a sequel to the surprise hit horror film “28 Days Later.” It’s also one of the best sequels in recent memory.

“28 Days Later” was a British film that showed what happened when a “rage virus” struck the population of London and caused its victims to go insane and turn carnivorous. It was a bleak and upsetting film but very well made and exceptionally well acted.

What set it apart from the George Romero movies such as “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” is the “28 Days Later” zombies (for want of a better word) were not slow, lumbering creatures, but fast. Once they got bitten the transformation was instantaneous so where before there was one zombie, there could a be a dozen or more in the blink of an eye. They are very fast, and very, very hungry.

When “28 Weeks Later” opens, the virus has been contained, and people are slowly being let back into a secure neighborhood of downtown London, with strict orders not to go into restricted areas, where there are still contaminated bodies lying around, as well as infected dogs and other animals.

A father, played by Robert Carlyle (and the only cast member I recognized), is reunited with his two children. One day the children sneak into the restricted area to their old house for old time’s sake and to re-claim a picture of their late mother. This trip proves catastrophic. More I will not say.

This is not for the faint of heart, as there are some pretty gruesome images on display here. In the action and chase scenes there’s lots of fast cutting, close-ups and raucous rock music, which usually drives me nuts, but in this case I thought it worked. Certainly an attack on a farm house at the beginning of the film is one of the most intense sequences I’ve seen in a long time.

The scenes of a desolate London are very evocative, and beautifully shot. I’m a sucker for these kinds of apocalyptic movies, and “28 Days Later” is one of the best. The director, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, is unknown to me but I will definitely be watching out for him.

Rating for “28 Weeks Later”: Three-and-a-half stars.

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