28 Weeks Later - Review
Review by Jack Foley
WITH 28 Days Later Alex Garland and Danny Boyle gave the zombie genre a kick up the backside that left horror fans salivating for more.
But while they bask in the critical glow of Sunshine Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo steps into the fray to carry things forward – and does so in exemplary fashion.
28 Weeks Later is a breathtakingly ferocious horror film that’s easily the best thing to hit the genre since Neil Marshall’s The Descent. It’s tense, gory and relentlessly exciting, yet it also makes you care.
What’s more, it furthers a potential horror franchise in a style not witnessed since James Cameron rebooted Ridley Scott’s Alien.
The film opens with a sequence set during the early infection period as a group of desperate survivors find themselves beseiged by zombies in a boarded-up house in the country. Among them is Robert Carlyle’s Don, an anxious husband and father who puts his own survival above everyone else’s, leaving his wife (Catherine McCormack) to fend for herself in the face of near-certain death.
It then fast forwards 28 weeks later as Britain has been emptied and quarantined by US troops and the first new inhabitants are let back in to a heavily fortified compound on the Isle of Dogs.
Included among the returning citizens are Don’s kids Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) and Tammy (Imogen Poots), who are reunited with their father, but whose efforts to uncover the truth about their mother trigger a chain of events that lead to the bloody return of the virus.
Caught in the middle of the ensuing mayhem are Andy and Tammy themselves, as well as a trio of American sympathisers comprised of Rose Byrne’s scientist, Jeremy Renner’s army sniper and Harold Perrineau’s helicopter pilot.
If 28 Weeks Later lacks the freshness of its predecessor, Fresnadillo more than compensates with a number of thrilling set pieces that mask some of its failings.
The action is fast, furious and shockingly brutal and crucially doesn’t leave any room for sentimental decision making. Characters drop like flies and often in horrifying ways.
Yet somehow we care about all of them which only strengthens the director’s hand when it comes to delivering the big emotional blows.
His use of London, too, is first-rate, drawing on many of the elements that made Boyle’s original so memorable (deserted streets etc) and expanding the scope to lend it a vast aerial sweep more in keeping with movies set in New York.
Of the performances, everyone is on top form (including the kids), whether it’s relaying fear and/or menace (in the case of Carlyle) or a gung-ho sense of cool (Renner and Perrineau).
But Fresnadillo remains astute enough to ensure that no one becomes bigger than the scenario and keeps his characters rooted in its reality rather than rising ludicrously above it.
The result is an utterly infectious experience that delivers the kind of exhilaration and bite that the horror genre has long since been missing.
Running time: 98mins