DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: 28 DAYS LATER

Tuesday 13 February 2007


28 Days Later (2003) dir. Danny Boyle
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris


“28 Days Later” is the high water mark for digital cinema, and what can be done with today’s consumer digital cameras. It’s a marvel. Danny Boyle, an established and successful director, shot what could have been a big expensive $100m Hollywood action film, on a camera that cost, at the time, $7,500. After the first scene into the film you forget you’re watching a DV film, instead, it becomes a ballsout action zombie extravaganza and a masterpiece of genre filmmaking. Few other digital films have used the medium to better effect. (NOTE: please send your thoughts on other influential DV films).

A humble bike courier, Jim, awakens in a hospital to find it completely empty. Not a sole in sight. He ventures outside, still no one in sight. The entire city of London is vacant. The opening scenes are eerie, watching Murphy walk the streets of the busiest sections of London in broad daylight with no one around. Jim discovers the only people alive are ravenous madmen feeding on human flesh. He is chased through the streets but is eventually rescued by a group of human survivors. Jim learns that the entire country has been affected by a
‘rage’ virus which, when exposed, infects the person with rabid, mania-like symptoms (or “rage-zombies”).

The leader of the survivors is a feisty woman Selena (Naomie Harris) - tough as nails and ruthless when it comes to killing the zombies. They hook up with a father (Frank) and daughter (Hannah) who also have one of the only functional motor vehicles. The 4 of them leave the city in hopes of finding a safe house, which is being broadcast by a makeshift militia in the countryside. The four-some bond over the journey, until they reach the military base – a converted old manor fortified with barbed wire, land mines and machine guns. But the tables are turned as the militia turn out to be more of a threat than the zombies. The climatic battle isn’t what you would expect, and instead becomes an ironic commentary on human nature.

Boyle mixes suspense and horror well with character and drama. The emotional moments are as good as the action – when Jim finds his euthanized parents and when Hannah watches his father get killed by the infection. As with Boyle’s other films the pacing is fast, with terrific soundtrack to move the film along. The film is essentially about human nature, how we deal with crisis and how we reveal our true selves when all our defenses are stripped away. In times like these our neighbours are our enemies and bike couriers can become heroes. Enjoy the beautiful carnage.

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