Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rental Reviewer: '28 Days Later'

Each week, at-home critic Denise Purvis dons the guise of the Rental Reviewer and explores the best (and worst) of paranormal pop culture movies.

28 Days Later

Released in 2003, this zombie flick from genre-tackling auteur Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire) not only spawned the sequel 28 Weeks Later, but also kickstarted a new undead era in mainstream movies.

The plot: The movie begins when animal rights activists set free a bunch of lab monkeys infected with the "rage virus" and have a serious anger management problem that causes them to attack and eat their primate pals.  The virus jumps species and humans get hungry eyes (one look at you and they can't disguise). So that's how the Zombie Apocalypse begins? See that PETA?

Anyhow, our hero Jim (Cillian Murphy of Batman Begins) wakes up after being unconscious for 28 days to find London is seemingly vacated. As the tagline says, “His fear began when he woke up alone. His terror began when he realised he wasn't.”

(Very catchy, eh? I couldn’t have phrased it better myself.)

Jim meets up with two other non-infected Brits, and without them wouldn’t have lasted very long in rage-infected London. The cadre eventually meet up with another man and his daughter, and they make their way to a military survival compound where the film shifts tone from just scary to disturbing and scary.

The scene: There are many jump shots in the movie where I nearly bounced to the ceiling, but the best scenes come early in the movie when Jim first wakes up and walks around a lifeless London. The eeriness of a major city ceasing to bustle is chill-inducing before we see the zombie.  Then Jim pops into a chapel for a little solace, and the real fun begins that doesn't let up for the rest of the movie.

The take: Technically, the victims of 28 Days Later are infected with the “rage virus” and undead, but they have that I-will-eat-your-brains vibe, so they're zombies in my book. As such, this is one of my favorite of the zombie genre movies. I'm a sucker for indie movies, and this one is right on up there with the best high-budget terror flicks.