Dark, low-budget zombie flick is a mindless enjoyable ride.
Danny Boyle who gave us the horrors of public toilettes in Trainspotting and a paradise island gone wrong with The Beach gives us an apocalyptic nightmare- one that resembles a crossbreed between Outbreak and Resident Evil with a sudden, and perhaps unexpected Lord of the Flies finale all in one effective digital video experiment.
The good news is that looting seems like the most unbelievable high and the bad news is that there is not much to look forward to when the end of the world is at the feet of your doorstep. 28 Days Later is the amount of time it takes to see the effects of a whole animal experimentation thing gone wrong. Leave it up to us humans to develop things called â€˜rage syndromeâ€™, and leave it up to the demented mind of Boyle to show us why we shouldnâ€™t play with nature and why we shouldn’t go to bed thinking that the world is a safe place. As very angry monkeys decide to test their new television viewing skills on humans and leave a trail of splattered blood everywhere, the virus propagates itself. Whether it is only one small infected area or the entire world is the biggie question-of course venturing into the streets or listening to radio broadcast may help answer this question. Through the eyes of a hospital patient (played by Cillian Murphy) who suddenly wakes up wondering the empty streets of London, and looking over turned-over double-decker busses that litter the street ways, we watch his â€˜this-is-a-bad-dreamâ€™ facial expressions and empty cries of hello. Other characters come out for the dark, if it isnâ€™t blood-thirsty zombies itâ€™s a bunch of sole survivors such as Frank played by Brendan Gleeson Gangs of New York who give the newborn some bits of info on why the world is a wreck.
Boyle masters the digital video process, maximizing the shot and location ratio with a the low grade value that gives us a London streets segment within a kind of dreamscape setting, while the zombie stab-in-the-dark had me a little jumpy in my seat. I really liked the range of shots that follow the character, Boyle has a tendency for some fun eye-candy and not since a Montreal film festival screening of Das Experiment, has a film been so razor-sharp in mixing images with the psychological horror of being in such a helpless yet crazy situation. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack on fresh ideas and it shows in several moments where we wonder what the purpose is to character motivations and in some of the story denouements. At one time it is about strict survival with an annoying heroine who takes up too much space in the dialogue department, and then it becomes a fun road trip with some cool heart pounding moments, but this gets replaced by a really boring house of torture where the film ultimately loses itself into the madness which might have been better portrayed crazed monkeys instead of horny soldiers without a clue. Thankfully, Boyle does keep the film simple, downgrading from a Leo-sized budget and sticks to the idea of scaring us without too much of a soundtrack to divert the attention.
For Boyle fans like myself, this is no Trainspotting, and thankfully it isnâ€™t another A Life Less Ordinary or The Beach, and unless 28 Days Later comes up with a big marketing campaign, I donâ€™t see this as a potential career-reviving stint for Boyle, however, for those who might be looking for a little diversion in their film-going palette there might be just enough here to suggest overlooking some of the weak plot points and mindless actions for the type of unnerving thrills which make watching movies with monsters fun.