28 Days Later (2002)
By: J.R. McNamara on February 11, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Fox (Australia). Region 2 & 4 PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, Italian DD 5.1. English, Italian Subtitles. 108 minutes
The Movie
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns
Screenplay: Alex Garland
Country: UK
Horror is a strange beast. Finding a storyline that will scare everyone is something that would be almost impossible, unless it is something that COULD affect everyone. Then that premise becomes scary. Films with a premise like Jaws aren't necessarily scary to someone who never frequents the beach. What if, though, the premise for the film is something that no one could escape, that being a living breathing human being was the only criteria for the villain of the piece to be able to get you? What if the villain wasn't something you could hit, or stab, or run, or swim away from? Something like a virus…a pandemic virus. A virus that infects you immediately with a rage that makes you want to destroy everything around you, especially your fellow man. Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) and writer Alex Garland decided to explore that very scenario in their 2002 film, 28 Days Later.

Cycle courier Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up in a hospital after being in a coma from an accident he had while on his bike. He finds the hospital, and the streets abandoned. After a particularly unpleasant encounter with some people who appear to have gone stark raving mad, he meets with Mark (Noah Huntley) and Selena (Naomie Harris), who explain to him that the entire population has been infected with the Rage Virus, a disease that acts almost immediately upon infection, causing uncontrollable insanity in its victim. Their group fluctuates in numbers and their eventual efforts to get out of London lead them to Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston), but is he their salvation, or their extinction…

Filmed almost entirely in digital (the ending was filmed in 35 mm) to give it a rugged, urban feel, 28 Days Later stands as a compelling look at how society would break down if a planet-wide disaster was to strike. These themes have been explored before in The Day of The Triffids, The Omega Man, and Romero's Dead Trilogy (now quadrology, but for the sake of when this film was produced, the films still lay at three), and Garland and Boyle recognize the influence in several homages throughout the movie. This film should almost be quantified as a disaster film, if it wasn't for the excellent gore, the chilling silence of the landscape and the plain out and out scary madmen.

A top watch, and an excellent film for further discussion.
As a recent film that is shot on digital, you would expect this to be a clean transfer, and it is! Every moody lit scene presented excellently in 1.85:1. There doesn't appear to be any imperfections in the picture at all, although one does have to bear in mind that with it being shot on digital, it gives a grainy appearance, which was the intention of the director, to give it more of a documentary style feel, to draw you into the story more, as if you were watching it take place on a security camera.
The audio is excellent and is presented in English or Italian in Dolby Surround 5.1.
Extra Features
The commentary by Director Danny Boyle and Writer Alex Garland is nothing short of brilliant. Descriptive, educational and occasionally cheeky, these two seem to have a great respect and affection for this film, as they have something of relevance to say in every new scene.

The Deleted Scenes are just that. They come with or with out a commentary by Danny Boyle and Alex Garland. Mostly, they are unprocessed and have unclear sound or special effects incorporated into them, to the point the one titled 'Motorway Carnage' still has a degree of camera shake from the crane, and the streets are filled with cars driving about. This really needs to be watched after watching the director's commentary as it references points made in there.

There is also an alternate ending which again can be watched with or without commentary by Danny Boyle and Alex Garland. Not really that interesting, just a varying survival quantity.

Pure Rage: The Making of 28 Days Later (24 minutes 20 seconds) is as much a documentary about pandemic viruses as a making of feature. This is incredibly interesting, not just from a filmmaking point of view, but also from a survival of humanity point of view. It features interviews with stars Cillian Murphy , Brendan Gleeson, Christopher Eccleston, Megan Burns and Naomie Harris , along with director Danny Boyle and various experts on viruses. This is hosted by ex- BBC 1 radio presenter Lisa I'Anson, and was directed by Toby James, who is also responsible for the 'Making of I Robot'.

The photo galleries both have commentaries that are far more interesting than your Aunt Beryl's slide from her last trip to the Gold Coast. The galleries are quite interesting and much better than just a static image gallery that you get on most DVDs. The galleries are: Production Gallery (18 minutes 38 seconds) and a Poloroid Gallery (4 minues 9 seconds). The commentary actually stops half way through the poloroid gallery as Boyle decides he is just waffling on about nothing, but his comments are really informative.

The special feature labeled Marketing actually consists of 4 smaller features: the Theatrical Teaser Trailer (1 minute 30 seconds), the Theatrical Trailer (1 minute 58 seconds ), the Animated Storyboard from the original U.K. Website (1 minute 31 seconds) which is an online, animated trailer and a music video by Jacknife Lee (6 minutes 25 seconds).
The Verdict
I have always found this sort of movie the most terrifying. There is no solution; no walking into the sunset after the villain has been conquered. The only way to win is to survive, and survival is difficult when the odds are stacked against you. Danny Boyle has assembled an excellent cast to create a truly scary movie more because of its familiarity and realism, rather than its 'cinema shock tactics'. A must see.
Movie Score
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