Dir: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Script: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Enrique Lopez-Lavigne, Rowan Joffe, Jesus Olmo
Cast: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Idris Elba, Imogen Poots, Mackintosh Muggleton
A modern day Dawn of the Dead with hearty helpings of humanity, 28 Days Later revived the zombie movie, resuscitated the British horror scene and established Danny Boyle as Britain’s most diverse and intriguing director. Interesting then that 28 Weeks Later, the sequel sans Boyle, is to its predecessor what Zack Snyder’s 2004 Dawn remake was to Romero’s maggot-ridden magnum opus. 28 Days anti-consumerist commentary and existentialist themes are replaced by a series of memorable, claustrophobic set pieces that violently escalate like a series of Resident Evil video game levels.
After a visceral introduction that disturbs for all the right reasons, 28 Weeks falls back onto familiar territory. The American military have rounded up Britain’s few remaining survivors, setting up a small colony on the Isle of Dogs known as District 1, where the infection has so far been contained. Here, janitor Don (Carlyle) is reunited with kid’s Tammy and Andy, who are convinced that their mother is still alive. Needless to say, they’ve soon sneaked out of District 1’s inexplicably minimal security, and our decomposed friends are soon dining on their favourite snack.
With a plot that is entirely reliant on its characters making inexcusably irrational decisions – Don kissing his infected wife on the lips almost overshadows every over plot hole – 28 Weeks Later’s plot is a rancid mess. But while he seems content to follow in Boyle’s shaky-cam footsteps, Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (the fascinating, if disappointing Intacto) manages to redeem the first hour’s shortcomings with a relentless, stomach twisting finale that make one wish he had fully exerted his own presence.
The performances are all disposable, with the usually credible Carlyle hindered by uneven characterisation and bland dialogue and the rest of the cast competent if forgettable. But none of it really matters; the folks have come to see dismemberments, and they’ll get them by the meat wagon, leaving 28 Weeks Later thoroughly satiated and far too exhausted to belittle its countless flaws. A commendably sudden, if uninspiring, ending leads in nicely to the announced second sequel, entitled 28 Months Later…
Still, for all its failings 28 Weeks is an enjoyably undemanding horror movie with no aspirations to outshine its predecessor, but competently delivers crimson coated thrills by the bucket load.