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.
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:
Final Score: 4 gouged eyeballs out of 5
Have you seen it? What did you think?
Thank you for reading,