Sunday, October 18, 2015

28 Days Later

Year 7, Day 291 - 10/18/15 - Movie #2,176

BEFORE: OK, time to get serious.  I took last night off because we went to see "Les Miserables" again for my wife's birthday, but it's time to buckle down.  And with three of the last 4 films focusing on messages from the dead, which all seems pretty passive, now it's time for contact with the undead - zombies, to be exact.  I did zombie films late last year, but I didn't get to them all.  Zombie movies and shows are so popular, it's like they're multiplying, increasing and spreading like, oh, I don't know, but it will come to me.

Linking from "White Noise", I can't find my original notes, but an actress named Marsha Regis played a policewoman in that film, and she was also in "The Company You Keep" with Brendan Gleeson.  That'll have to do for now.  I found a couple of other links, but they all go through people who played minor zombie roles.

THE PLOT:  Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.

FOLLOW-UP TO: "World War Z" (Movie #1,896), "Cockneys vs. Zombies" (Movie #1,897)

AFTER: I'll admit that before last year I avoided zombie movies like the plague - I think when I was a kid I saw a commercial for one of those "Night of the Living Dead" movies, with a realistic (to me) zombie crawling out of the ground and asking for "Braaaains" and it really scared me.  So when the "Walking Dead" phenomenon came along and revitalized the genre, I took a pass.  Now that I've built up a little resistance to horror films, and it sure helps that I know so much about how special effects are done, I can dip more than just a toe in the pool.  

It also helps that I've now seen the world end many different ways on film, so a zombie apocalypse is just one of the many ways this thing can go down.  This time it's not really the forces of evil, it's virus-based, it was developed in a lab, where scientists were injecting monkeys with a "rage virus".  WTF, scientists, why do you want to make monkeys madder than they already are?  Isn't it enough that we put them in zoos and use them in lab experiments, why do you want to go and make them mad?  And since some of them throw their feces at us, I'd say they're probably pretty pissed off already, why make the situation worse?  

Plus, what is a "rage virus"?  And how did we go from angry monkeys to humans that eat each other's flesh?  That's a pretty big leap, if you ask me.  We get to see the transmission from monkey to human, but after that there's a 28 day leap forward in time, and we then see things through the eyes of a man who's just waking up from a coma.  Pretty convenient, this way the screenplay doesn't have to cover the how and why of the zombie takeover, just the aftermath - and this way they can play fast and loose with the science of it all as well.  

But I can't help but think that watching the zombies take over London would be the most interesting part, so perhaps the film's focus is not in the right place or time.  OK, so maybe focusing on a couple of people who've got a shot at living is more narratively interesting, rather than just chomp, chomp, chomp.  Our hero tracks down a couple of other uninfected people, and they pick up a radio message telling them to head north to Manchester, where they'll find the "answer to infection".  About half the film is them trying to get out of town, and then the other half is dealing with what they find there.

No spoilers - but the film is ultimately about the breakdown of society, and how people act when there are no longer any rules.  And it's not just the zombies - the uninfected have to not only fight and kill zombies, since resources are spread thin, as you might imagine, they end up fighting each other.  That's when it goes from a typical zombie film to more of an action film with zombies in it, and that's OK.  There's less flesh and brain-eating here than in other zombie films, but there's quite a bit of zombies puking blood onto people, because that's one of the methods of transmission.  Any resemblance to contagious diseases like Ebola is no doubt purely intentional. 

Also starring Cillian Murphy (last seen in "Transcendence"), Naomie Harris (last seen in "Skyfall"), Brendan Gleeson (last heard in "The Pirates! Band of Misfits"), Christopher Eccleston (last seen in "Gone in Sixty Seconds"), Noah Huntley, Megan Burns, Stuart McQuarrie.

RATING: 5 out of 10 bottles of single malt whisky

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