Worth A Look: 21.96%
Pretty Bad: 8.53%
Total Crap: 9.04%
17 reviews, 285 user ratings
|28 Days Later
by Scott Weinberg
I was unable to acquire press credentials for precisely ONE movie during my week-long visit to the beautiful Utah village of Park City. Ironically it was the one flick I was most ravenous to devour: Danny Boyle's '28 Days Later'.Disappointed but not nearly discouraged, I showed up in the wait list line at 6:00 PM.
"Trust a 25-year Horror Animal; this one's a dark, bleak, and nasty classic."
For a 9:00 PM show.
There were already 40-some people ahead of me.
Discouraged but not nearly beaten, I (and a good friend who hates horror movies yet still stood faithfully by my side) took my place at the cattle ropes and had conversations about movies with anyone nearby. Ninety minutes crept by.
A well-meaning and hardworking (yet nonetheless confrontational) Sundance volunteer enters the narrow hallway and informs us the following:
"This flick is a hot ticket. What that means is that most of you will not get in. If you have other things you could be enjoying right now, I'd call that the safe bet. To those who remain, I wish you luck."
He then departed, leaving the sheep to gape guppy-like at one another in seemingly telepathic disappointment. A few people left, but not enough to raise my chances all that much. Still I was glad to see them go.
It was precisely one hour before the show would begin that I learned the following:
I was not in the second of two lines, but the third of three. To explain this Utah phenomena in any further detail would require a degree in physics and spatial equilateral equilibriums. On both our parts.
Suffice to say that things looked grim. And here I'd spent two hours without sitting or eating. Ugh.
Me and my fellow loser slobs were then given yellow tickets, ones not unlike those found at a delicatessen. The irritated volunteer stopped back in and screamed:
"If you have numbers 1 - 50, you have a somewhat good chance of maybe possibly getting a ticket if we have a few cancellations."
My ticket was 69. Normally that would be a humourous numeral.
The volunteer told the now-numbered masses that they could roam for one half of one hour, but...
"If you are NOT back here by precisely 8:30, your numbered chit is NO longer VALID and you will be PLACED at the end of LINE."
Needless to say, Osama Bin-Laden would have a better chance of seeing this movie than would someone at the end of the line.
We trundled off to stand on a corner and pontificate the joys of simply standing in line for eternies on end before returning back to the line.
As 'we who were numbered' shuffled back into our now-familiar positions, we stood next to a massive (and growing) queue of well-dressed and grumpy-looking people: the ticket-holders!! These were the ones we wanted to catch cold or have a fender-bender; anything to keep them away from the theater. The fur-clad, pot-bellied and over-collagened kept filing in. I cursed the universe.
Though you've probably already predicted that I did make it into the screening, I hope that I'm a skilled enough writer to have made this tale at least a little suspenseful. (Probably not.) But the bottom line is this: me and my ever-chipper (yet now terrified) companion did indeed get into the theater.
Final score? Numbers 1 - 72 made it in. We were 69 and 70.
So Danny Boyle bounds onto the stage. Since I'm at these festivals in a professional capacity (at least that's what I tell my editors and friends), I try not to clap fanboyishly. Instead I clap loudly.
Danny Boyle (director of Trainspotting, Shallow Grave, A Life Less Ordinary and The Beach): "Hello and thanks for coming. 28 Days is a Sandra Bullock film about one woman's ability to overcome alcoholism, the importance of friendship and the healing power of love. This is not the sequel."
He smirks as he bops off the stage to appreciative laughter and a little more applause.
Now, before I kick in with my analytical ideas of the film as a whole, its assets and its flaws, its concepts and its delivery, the music, the acting, the sound, the look, the feel, and all that important stuff:
This movie scared the fuck out of me. More than once.
I'm not about to sit here and tell you I've seen thousands of horror movies. You all know I have. So have most of you. In other words, I consider myself a tough nut to crack, scare-wise.
This flick had me jolting northwards in rapid succession. Like shock therapy. Like uncontrollable spasms of the ankles and lower back. Like being scared when you were little.
Overhype cool-down: Is this the best horror movie I've ever seen, a flick without flaw or misstep, one that will overwhelm every single person who checks it out?
Of course not. (A common complaint among some is that Act II sags and lurches almost visibly, and I halfway agree with that relatively minor gripe.)
But the damn thing gets five stars from me, I absolutely cannot WAIT to see it again, it has reignited my passion and patience for the entire genre of quality horror. And it's certainly one of the finest 'end of the world' movies I've ever seen.
The film opens with a sequence that will delight the PETA folks and absolutely horrify anyone else: a well-meaning but hopeless group of 'freedom fighters' have broken into a high-tech laboratory with the intention of liberating the primate test subjects.
You know what they say about the Road to Hell...
Seems these particular monkeys are being tested with a new "Rage" virus, and that freeing them from their cages is just about the worst idea since the invention of the bad idea.
...28 days later...
London is a silent tomb as a sole hosptial patient awakens from a month-long coma. He searches the city and finds it wholly deserted and more than a little unsettling. Unwisely popping into a half-demolished church, our hero discovers a huge pile of moldering dead bodies...OK, maybe they're not dead after all.
28 Days Later has been labeled a Zombie Flick by those who either need a simple label or just didn't pay much attention to the film. Zombies are slowly-shuffling undead corpses who crave human blood (or brains); the attackers in 28 Days Later are living human beings pushed to the point of rabid and astonishing lunacy...thanks to those damn tree-huggers and their raid of the monkey lab. The monsters in this film don't shuffle and whine; they run at you, screaming - and their goal isn't to drink your bodily fluids; they just want to kill you. Immediately.
It's probably not much of a spoiler at this point to divulge that our sole character does indeed find some fellow survivors, or even that they devise a plan to rebuild society in some small fashion. But since I knew next to nothing about the plot going into the film, and I ended up absolutely loving the damn thing, I'll leave the synopses at the door. Hopefully you'll avoid too many spoilers before the movie hits theaters.
Suffice to say that the movie has a creepy surface (where is everyone?), a few truly unsettling concepts (has the virus spread worldwide?), a satisfyingly smart subtext (not only should you not SCREW with Mother Nature, but also that you holier-than-thou do-gooders should watch your step as well) and most importantly: the movie's freakin' scary. Sudden-jolt-scary, atmosphere-as-a-whole scary and holy-crap-this-doesn't-seem-too-far-removed-from-reality scary.
The cast is top-notch across the board, and it helps that Alex Garland's screenplay gives them actions and words that actually make some sense in the setting. This is not some 'wander alone in the dark like an imbecile' slasher flick. Instead, it's a high-end Twilight Zone episode with some wonderfully intense moments of bloody mayhem.
Danny Boyle has done an amazing thing here: 28 Days Later is as dark and creepy (and gory!) as any quality B-flick out there - but there's also a classy sheen and professionalism to the movie that elevates it way beyond your typical genre fare. American horror movies could look like this if the studio heads didn't see the horror genre as some shameful red-headed stepchild.It's been a few months since I've seen the movie, and since that time I've read a handful of less-than-enthusiastic reactions to it. So maybe 28 Days Later isn't everyone's cup of joe - but if you consider yourself even a mild fan of well-made horror movies, I'd be willing to wager you find a whole lot to like here. Genre schmenre; this is one of the best movies I've seen in years.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6824&reviewer=128
originally posted: 06/01/03 08:54:06
|OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.