'28 Weeks Later'
(Catherine McCormack, Robert Carlyle, et al / DVD / R / 2007 / 20th Century Fox)
Overview: The film starts six months after the Rage virus has spread throughout the city of London. The United States Army has restored order and is repopulating the quarantined city, when a carrier of the Rage virus enters London and unknowingly re-ignites the spread of the deadly infection, wreaking havoc on the entire population.
DVD Verdict: When I heard that this was coming out, I was not expecting much. The original is arguably THE zombie classic (discounting the hysterical "Shaun of the Dead") of the last decade, but the sequel involved almost none of the original minds that brought us the stark terror of "28 Days Later", which combined the threats of cataclysmic disease and it's deadly effects on the mind which caused those infected by what became known as the "Rage Virus" to viciously and relentlessly attack the uninfected, either killing the victim or spreading the disease. A sequel had potential of course, but it seemed like it would be a by-the-books popcorn affair. Boy, was I wrong.
People complained that the first film started too slowly and was boring for the first twenty minutes; I disagree, but that issue has been addressed nonetheless. The opening sequence flashes back to another group of survivors during the original outbreak. Their fate is one you won't forget; it is startling, chaotic, terrifying, dramatic, hopeless, and heartbreaking, all within one fairly short chain of events. That's when I knew this one was going to be everything I wished it would be and it never let me down. This film is epic and personal, gruesome yet tearful, and manages to give you everything you want, even when you had no clue that you wanted it.
The evolution of the Rage Virus is a fascinating one in that it manages to outlive the death of all of the infected (from starvation) by exploiting a rare gene that allows some people to be carriers of the virus without succumbing to it's effects. The result: even kissing your wife hello could be the catalyst for a new, deadly outbreak. The story kicks in 28 weeks after the infection dies and the US military is overseeing the repopulation of London; or a district of London to be precise. Every possible step is taken to ensure that the horror that was the infection that wiped Great Britain's population clean off the earth is not repeated.
Naturally, the virus finds a way. As the crushing mass of humanity flees from the compromised quarantine and the murderous zombies, there is an amazing scene where the rooftop snipers are frantically trying to distinguish the civilians from the infected as they run down a bottlenecked street. The chaos and hopelessness of the situation are palpable as the camera shows us through a soldier's scope just what he is up against in dramatic fashion. The way that these situations of large-scale human terror are turned into personal struggles is what makes this movie a stone cold classic in my mind where it otherwise would have been just another great horror film.
The cinematography impresses as well. There are plenty more of those iconic shots of deserted London that bring back memories of the first film and make me wish I lived there so I could appreciate them more. Another nice touch. And the final shot of the film, while not unexpected, is one that will chill you to the bone and thrill you at the same time.
I've spent significant time trying to think of a horror sequel that surpassed the original so superbly and I honestly can't think of one. The closest would be the original "Dawn of the Dead", but I still prefer "Night of the Living Dead" to "Dawn" so "28 Weeks Later" takes it. This is an absolute take-no-prisoners, hard "R", work of terror that must be viewed by all professing to be horror fans. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Feature Commentary by Director/Co-Writer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and Producer/Co-Writer Enrique Lopez Levigne
Code Red: The Making of 28 Weeks Later Featurette
The Infected Featurette
Getting Into The Action Featurette
28 Days Later - The Aftermath: Stage 1 "Development" (Animated Graphic Novel); Stage 3 "Decimation" (Animated Graphic Novel
Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and Enrique Lopez Levigne