Reely Bernie Horror Fest: 28 Days Later – 2002

Origin/Director: UK, Spain/Danny Boyle

Viewings Tally: This is my second viewing. I saw it in the theatre the year it came out.

Synopsis: Twenty-eight days after a killer virus was accidentally unleashed from a British research facility, a small group of London survivors are caught in a desperate struggle to protect themselves from the infected. Carried by animals and humans, the virus turns those it infects into homicidal maniacs – and it’s absolutely impossible to contain. [Letterboxd]

Reely Bernie’s Take: I know, I know – not another zombie movie! That’s the thing though: In 2002, the zombie trope was fresher than human brains on the day of the kill. Resident Evil (2002) came right after, then the Dawn of the Dead (2004) remake, and then the comedy subgenre masterpiece, Shaun of the Dead (2004). By the time The Walking Dead released its canon of what felt like a thousand episodes in 2010, and Brad Pitt let his hair go wild in World War Z in 2013, and Playstation 3 came out with The Last of Us video game, the zombie theme was getting stale, and to this day, I am turned off by it.

Luckily, this is a Danny Boyle film. The highly decorated English visionary of Trainspotting (1996), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), and Steve Jobs (2015) knows how to captivate within the confines of a small room and the vastness of an empty London cityscape.  

Cillian Murphy in “28 Days Later” (Photo by Sundance/WireImage)

I guess it is not “technically” a zombie movie. On a timely scale, it’s about a pandemic virus. On a horrific scale, the infected are “like” zombies on steroids in need of an anger management class. They’re not necessarily after your brains – just an opportunity to bite and spread more virus.

Working more with silence and its stark contrast to the “zombie” shrieks, Boyle composes gritty found-footage shots amid plenty of blood splattering to the camera lens. With dabs of humor, a mellow indie rock soundtrack, and even some family bonding, there is a soft, human side that makes the journey to survive all the more real.    

And, that’s all there is to it: Survive the day, don’t make plans, and be the opposite of complacent. (In a way, it’s a lot like living today.)

18 years later, the brooding suspense and tension between survivors and their distrust of one another still holds up. Amazon Prime has an “HD” version available to rent right now, but don’t forget how early 21st century celluloid converts to digital: It’s a little muddy. In a way, I thought the lower quality sound and visuals made it scarier and VHS nostalgic.

(And, no, this is not the sequel to the Sandra Bullock rehab movie.)

The Shot that Won’t Let Go:

One of the most surprising jump scares in my viewing history. I don’t jump often, but the timing of this shot is brilliantly executed by Director Boyle.

Final Score: 4 gouged eyeballs out of 5

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Thank you for reading,

Reely Bernie

5 thoughts on “Reely Bernie Horror Fest: 28 Days Later – 2002

Add yours

  1. Yep. I’m with you on being tired of the zombie genre. But 28 Days Later is a stone-cold classic. There’s a lot of real tragedy in amongst all the gnarly bloodshed here. This movie works because of Danny Boyle’s sense of humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, Tom, and you said it so well: Danny Boyle’s sense of humanity is so lucid in all of his films. Even in this surface level trope, he makes you care and fear for these characters. I like that it has a happy ending too. Happy horror movies, man!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent review. I’ve watched it a number of times ober the years, have it on DVD, and love the sheer menace and blistering terror of it; that contrasted with the silent moments you pointed out, and the lush British countryside or deserted London streets are sights to behold. I liked the take on fast zombies vs lumbering ones, and the music is just spellbinding. It’s a film I know I’ll watch again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re too kind! Thanks for reading and connecting on Danny Boyle and the British countryside. Once our baby girl is a little older, our dream vacation is to visit England. Of course, we gotta get through this other/non-zombie virus. I’m really digging your blog. Nostalgic toys for me go to Star Wars figurines. I had so so many and either lost them, sold them, or (stupidly) put them in mud pits in my backyard as I was trying to replicate scenes in Return of the Jedi 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For sure if you get chance to visit England do it. Also Wales, Scotland and Republic of Ireland are beautiful.
        Star Wars toys and figures – yep, same here, such a familiar story, sold them all never realising how popular (and sometimes quite valuable) they would be later in life.
        Thanks for the blog props 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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