28 Days Later... (2002)

Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Alex Palmer
Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.
28 Days Later is both a terrifying zombie movie and a sharp political allegory.
  • Fox Searchlight Pictures Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 27 Jun 2003 Released:
  • 21 Oct 2003 DVD Release:
  • $44.9M Box office:

All subtitles:

Trailer:

A modern classic.9/10
Perhaps I'm a little biased. After all, this is set in the city I live and work in, and seeing Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus, which I pass by every morning and which are usually teeming with crowds of people, completely empty was enough to send shivers down my spine. Usually when you watch a movie like this it's located in some nondescript Midwestern village, which makes it easy to detach yourself from the events unfolding on screen. But seeing them occur in the place you call home is something that gives it an entirely new sense of reality, and one I was previously unaccustomed to.

Still, judging 28 Days Later entirely on its merit as a film, it's easy to arrive at the conclusion that it's a fantastic achievement, as well as a coming-of-age of sorts for director Danny Boyle; I can't say the MTV-inspired vanity of The Beach, or the self-consciously trendy posturing of Trainspotting appealed to me, and to my shame I initially expected 28 Days Later to be given a similar treatment. Thankfully, my fears proved unfounded, discarded straight after a opening sequence which is at once effortless and fearsome. The rest of the movie was a joy. A terrifying joy, but a joy nonetheless.

It's true that sometimes minimalism can be more effective than overblown bravado, and it's definitely true for this movie. It's the scenes of complete silence which get to you the most; an entire metropolis empty. The grainy picture serves to add a documentary-style quality to the film, which makes the whole situation seem almost too real to bear. Definitely a wise choice to film this on digital video.

You will occasionally meet people who thought 28 Days Later wasn't 'scary' or 'gory' enough. These are the same people who will tell you that 2001 was 'boring', or that Memento was 'confusing'. Ignore them. Others didn't understand the purpose of the second half, or were confused by its change of pace, feeling that it distracted from the movie as a whole. However, I personally regard the second half as very important because, as another reviewer pointed out, it makes a very succinct point: What is scarier, the end of the world, or having the world repopulated by maniacs? That, I think, is where the real Horror of 28 Days Later lies.

28 Days Later, like the Romero zombie flicks of yore, is ultimately an allegory of the days we are living in, an age in which we are constantly confronted with violence by the media (much like the ape right at the start of the film), where violence begets violence, and humanity faces an uncertain future. I applaud Danny Boyle's bravery in making 28 Days Later because he undoubtedly took a big commercial risk when the majority of the cinema-going public might prefer escapism to words of caution. Remember, Rage is a human-made disease. Quite the allegory there.

Like most great masterpieces of their time, 28 Days Later has been misunderstood by a considerable amount of people. I have no doubt it will go down in history as a classic, the one movie which perfectly sums up the confused era we are living in. And even if you didn't like it, it would be advisable to give 28 Days Later another chance; it's a haunting experience when looked at from the right angle. Danny Boyle has many years left in him, I hope he'll continue making more movies like this.
Quite good5/10
I'm amazed there are so many negative reviews of this film; I thought it succeeded on every level. It's artistic and atmospheric, with a great pace, sympathetic characters, and a fantastic climax. The music is very nicely done, and, to me, the eerie opening scenes of the empty London streets are worth the price of admission all on their own. I'm a stubborn viewer, and, normally, when a film benefits from early critical buzz in the manner that this one did, I find some excuse not to like it. But not this time; I'm completely impressed. (Incidentally, I think it's interesting that while most horror films these days seem to have been inspired by knockoffs of knockoffs, "28 Days Later" apparently owes more to John Wyndham's classic disaster novel "The Day of the Triffids" than to anything else. And that's a good thing.) HIGHLY recommended.
one of the best European horror films this decade10/10
The key to keeping the sci-fi horror genre alive in the cinemas, as of late, is to make sure the material and techniques the filmmakers present is at least competent, at it's average creative, and at it's best something that we haven't seen before or haven't seen in such a style or form. George A. Romero did that back in prime 60s and 70s era of film-making, bringing forth one of the most memorable trilogies of all time for the genre. While many consider Romero to be on any given list one of the greatest horror directors (I included), it is important to know that he too had his sources for his little independent film in 1968, and after that was when he really got inventive, resulting in a masterpiece and a lackluster. Director Danny Boyle and author Alex Garland know that if they were to cook up a yarn all too similar to Romero it wouldn't be satisfying. So, they've done what is essential to the success of 28 Days Later- they take ideas that have been in practice for many years, turn them fresh, and as the audience we feel repelled, excited, terrified, nauseous (perhaps), and enthralled, but we won't leave feeling like we've seen complete hack work.

What does Boyle and his team set out to do to freshen up the zombie string? By making not in precise terms a "zombie" movie- you never hear "living-dead" uttered in this film, although you do hear "infected" and a new word for what these people have, "rage". Indeed, this is what the infected have in Britain, when a monkey virus gets let loose on the Island, and from the beginning of the infectious spread the film cuts to a man, Jim, lying in a hospital bed, who wanders abandoned streets and views torn fragments of society in front of him. That Boyle implements atmosphere as heavily as he does with the action/chase scenes gives an indication of his dedication to the detail. Jim soon finds a few other survivors, including Selena (Naomie Harris) and a father and his daughter (Brendan Gleeson and Megan Burns) who hear of salvation on a radio and decide to brave it out to find it. When they do, it's a military outpost that's without any true salvation, outside of the various military typos.

Like in Boyle and producer Andrew MacDonald's spellbinding (if that's the proper terminology) adaptation of Trainspotting, the craft is on par (or arguably topping) with the story and characters, and thus it has to captivate us all the more so to care about the plight of Jim and his companions. The photography by Anthony Dod Mantle is striking, not the least of which since it was done on digital photography (like in Blair Witch, the use of non-professional camera equipment adds the proper shading when needed), but also many of the shot compositions are different for such a film. The editing by Chris Gill goes quicker than expected in the attack scenes, going so fast between the infected throwing up blood, the screaming on-looker; the new infected transforming within seconds, and then the results that follow. Mark Tildesley's production design, as well as John Murphy's music, evokes haunting, evocative moods even in the more mundane scenes. And the acting, considering not many of the actors are well-known, is more than believable for such a script.

I'm not sure if 28 Days Later will be everyone's cup of tea. Some of the horror and science fiction fans out there will immediately hear of this film, see a preview or a TV ad, or even see it, and dismiss it as phooey rubble borrowed from the video-store. I can see their points of view, since I saw many similarities in Romero and some other films (the military scenes reminded me of Day of the Dead, though the chained up Zombie in this was done for more practical reasons, and the supermarket scene is a little unneeded considering the satirical reverence it had in Dawn of the Dead). But what they should understand is that Boyle isn't making a 100% original film, and no one could at this point of the genre's history. He has done, however, the most credible job he could in getting a different tone, a different setting in country, and of a different, enveloping view of the scene structures. Overall, 28 Days Later is constructed and executed like most sci-fi horror films you've ever seen, and like not many other sci-fi horror films you've ever seen combined, in a sense, for a modern audience: fascinating throughout.
An Existential Drama,with Horror woven in8/10
The 2003 State-side release of Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later" was advertised as being a shockful scare-fest of a movie. I didn't get around to seeing it until a few days ago and I gotta feel like that was somewhat of an embellishment on the promoters' part.

When environmental terrorists attack a lab that contains diseased chimps who are infected with a "Rage" virus, they unwittingly let loose a plague that lays waste to England and(perhaps)the rest of society. The 28 Days later of the title cuts to a mostly abandoned London where a coma-tized bicycle courier named Jim(Cillian Murphy,effective) wakes from his stasis to find himself alone in a hospital. As he searches London for signs of life,he is rescued from raging zombies by a couple of survivalists(one of them,the lovely Naomie Harris)who he follows from place to place to keep alive. From there,he also meets a man and his daughter(Brendan Gleeson,terrific,and Megan Burns,good)and they try to find a refuge out of London-town. A recorded message of a "paradise" where "salvation" can be found is tracked by Frank(the man) on his shortwave radio.

This film feels more like a meditation on what happens to people when they are reduced to their lowest elements. A friend of mine told me that this movie's running zombies was what inspired the zombies in the remake of "Dawn of the Dead",but where "Dawn of..." was pretty much a full-throttle action/horror hybrid from about start to finish,this film plays more like a "What if..." movie,with less emphasis on the creatures themselves and more on the (lucky?) survivors. There are also disturbing lessons on the nature OF survival,too.

An very interesting and disturbing flick that probably sold itself wrong.
What makes it different...8/10
This film is about a virus, 'Rage' virus that makes the infected person mad with extreme rage and hungry for blood. Within 28 days one outbreak in London caused entire Britain dead or evacuated leaving behind a blood-thirsty infected population and a handful of solitary normal persons. Civilization came to a halt, society got destroyed while those limited survivors fight for existence among frequent attack by the vicious victims.

Sounds familiar? Then what makes "28 Days Later..." a classic among a horde of zombie/biohazard movies? Simply a touch of art that Danny Boyle is able to bring what others could not. The others focus too much on extensive, special-effects-controlled, gory action sequences between infected and normals, with heavy background music. But here there's always a tinge of sadness, emptyness, helplessness. Consider that empty London scene with that background music. We found out there's much else to show than just electrifying action or gore to describe the picture of life in this condition that these movies talk about.

There are mistakes and loopholes in this movie. But that couldn't weaken the otherwise tight-gripping storyline. The greatest achievement of this movie is to make one viewer stay neutral throughout the film, without taking any side in the first place. Because the virus we talk about is simply used as a metaphor. 'Rage' is shown as a social disease. That makes it a 'serious' film, not a flick. Every person, even the harshest critic of zombie horror movies should watch this. 5 out of 5 stars.

Oh, did I mention Cillian Murphy was awesome?