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28 Days Later

The Days Are Numbered 

Year: 2002 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Danny Boyle 
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris and Christopher Eccleston  
An image from 28 Days Later

Danny Boyle has a hell of a reputation to live up to. And, after the large- scale disappointment that was "The Beach", he has a lot of reputation to regain. Happily for him therefore, he delivers exactly what his fans would expect from him - a hyper-kinetic, gritty, disturbing and undeniably brilliant British film, one that manages to stay faithful to the genre, while at the same time bringing a style with it all of its own.

Taking up almost exactly where fellow Brit Paul Anderson's "Resident Evil" left off, "28 Days Later" begins with a terrible virus being unleashed onto the world by foolish animal rights activists. After this eerie pre-credits sequence, the film proper begins in disturbing silence, as the unnamed hero (Cillian Murphy) awakes in a deserted hospital, and going out discovers that whole of London has seemingly been abandoned to the winds. However, all is not as it seems - after a bloody confrontation with a violent priest, it becomes painfully obvious that the mean streets of London have become very mean indeed. Before long our unshaven hero has picked up a few fellow survivors, and is on his way to a secret army base to try and battle with the infected zombie hordes that have seemingly taken over the world.

To be fair, the plot of "28 Days Later" will be familiar to anyone who has more than a passing interest in the horror genre -George Romero has, after all, made this film three times over. And, for those who are familiar with the mighty "Trilogy of the Dead", there is plenty here that might be determined to be theft rather than tribute. However, in my opinion, if you're going to steal, you may as well steal from the best, and Romero has left a hell of a template, and it's a template Boyle uses to excellent effect.

For this is purely and simply a gut-wrenching horror film, taking the familiar trope of humans on the run and placing it a scarily familiar just- round-the-corner future. Of course, horror depends on being scared, and the creations known as "the infected" are terrifying creatures indeed - glowing red eyes, unnerving speed and a seemingly insatiable bloodlust combine to make the most chilling zombie-esque villains of recent memory. Added to this is Boyle's inarguable skill behind the camera, milking the tension for all it's worth (the tunnel scene alone being worth the admission price). His decision to shoot the film on digital camera brings a Dogme-style sense of stark realism and genuinely creepy atmosphere.

"28 Days Later" is a film by a British visual genius who is right back at the top of his game - a bloody, exciting and scary roller coaster through a terrifyingly possible future. Boyle, your reputation is intact.

Greg Taylor

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Screenings of this film:

2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)
2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)
2010/2011 Summer Term (35mm)