Review by: Marc Ashdown l Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Danny Boyle
and Alex Garland; Storyboard alternate ending; 8 deleted scenes
with optional commentary (16 mins); 'Pure Rage: The Making of
28 Days Later' (24 mins); Jacknife Lee music video (6 mins); Stills
gallery with commentary; Polaroid gallery with commentary; Animated
storyboards; Theatrical teaser; Theatrical trailer.
ITS certainly one way of clearing London's congested streets.
28 days after a deadly virus has all but wiped out the human race,
the hitherto comatose Jim (Cillian Murphy) wanders across Westminster
Bridge, down past the Houses of Parliament, up the Mall and round
Not a car in sight, another person for miles or even a bird in
the sky. Just a bizarre and detached complete and utter silence.
It's a London never glimpsed in this cosmopolitan city-that-never-sleeps
day and age; it's placidity unnerving, yet providing a fitting
calm before the gathering storm.
The filming process employed to snatch these enthralling images
(the film is shot almost entirely on Digital Video (DV), affords
director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, The Beach) the freedom to
paint stunning visuals of a post-apocalyptic Britain throughout.
It's a chance he grasps with both hands and, consequently, styles
a hugely impressive, and bloody scary, film - though dealing more
in the sociological and moral implications of an outbreak of such
biblical proportions, rather than merely opting for a blood-and-splatter
It's a hideously realistic possibility, given the current global
stand-off with Saddam Hussein and the threat of biological warfare
hanging heavy on the country's psyche.
A group of environmentalists break into a lab to free a bunch
of caged monkeys, only to succeed in unleashing the 'rage' virus
they've been infected with.
In days it's an epidemic: the world as we know it spins catastrophically
out of control.
Boyle deliberately steers clear of showing the brutal details
of the collapse of humanity; instead building a gradual picture
through the eyes of Jim as he struggles to come to terms with
Of course, there are survivors - there are always survivors.
And, as usual, they fall into two categories to drive the narrative:
The Infected - slavering, blood-vomiting, red eyed zombies; and
the smaller band of normal folk fighting for their lives.
It has obvious shades of The Omega Man, and the vacuous, uninhibited
London wastelands owe much to A Clockwork Orange.
Also, the climax - where Jim and friends stumble on a fortress
populated by a renegade band of army recruits striving to start
again in their own version of utopia - echoes Apocalypse
Yet Boyle still manages an inspiring originality. This is largely
down to the camerawork. The DV format softens every shot, which
instills a sense of calm that makes the jolting, extremely violent
action sequences all the more intense and shocking.
The attacks by The Infected are sporadic, although their lythe
'superhuman' movement (Boyle employed athletes where possible
to increase their animalistic qualities - and utilises speed photography,
best seen in Saving
Private Ryan, to increase the fear factor) ensures maximum
Excellent character performances aside, it's the messages which
stay in the mind. How fragile and easily violated humans are,
and also the commentary on how rage (which we all experience in
daily life) could easily be exacerbated and manifest itself into
something far more evil than a row over parking spaces or shopping
The bigger picture is perhaps most striking of all. The worst
taste in the mouth is left by Jim's glimpse of a passenger plane
passing overhead. As one character remarks: 'The rest of the
World carries on as normal. They've quarantined us and left our
stinking island to rot.'
Food for thought indeed.