28 Weeks Later
directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
(20th Century Fox, 2007)

I was in the minority of hardcore horror fans who found 28 Days Later to be a huge disappointment for a number of reasons, but I have to say that 28 Weeks Later is a much better film than its predecessor. I still can't see how any horror fan could rank either film as among the best zombie films ever made, though -- there are just too many problems in evidence.

It's been six months since the "Rage" virus outbreak in Britain has been contained, and some civilians are now being allowed back into London -- into a highly secure sector tightly controlled by the American military. You don't get in without a thorough medical examination, and the military is everywhere, from boots on the ground to eyes in the air to snipers on top of buildings. Yep, nobody's getting in or out of this place without authorization. Nothing could possibly go wrong here. Not even Houdini could possibly manage to evade all of this security.

The movie opens quite effectively, with a group of survivors holed up in a house having their dinner ruined by a full-scale onslaught of zombies. In a scene that forces you to wonder what you would do in the same situation, Don (Robert Carlyle) cowardly leaves his wife Alice (Catherine McCormack) behind in order to save his own ass. When his kids Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) and Tammy (Imogen Poots) arrive back in new London from wherever they have been, he gives them an edited version of their mom's death. Now, you would think that two kids, one of whom is almost an adult (not to mention exceedingly hot), having already lost their mother to the virus, would never even dream of leaving the safety of their new home to wander out into the forbidden zone. Of course, you would also think that this tightly secured zone would at least have a gate or something to prevent that very thing from happening. Alas, no. Something potentially good actually comes from their escapade, though, as a survivor is found who is seemingly immune to the virus raging in her system. Now, you would think such an important medical subject would be watched and guarded more closely than Fort Knox, yet someone easily waltzes into her room, does something really stupid and becomes infected. Once the authorities figure out what has happened, they immediately go to Code Red and lock the place down. Civilians are huddled into "secure" areas -- unfortunately, just turning the lights off doesn't do much good if you're going to leave a door to the place all but wide open. Can you see a pattern here? Too little too late doesn't even begin to describe the security problems in evidence all throughout this film.

Anyway, the second half of the film consists of a race for survival, as Tammy, Andy and a few others run for their lives from both the increasing numbers of brand-new zombies and the military forces out to exterminate them and everyone else in the infected sector. This is where the film really hits its stride, throwing numerous scenes of blood, explosions and carnage at the viewer. It's good stuff, no doubt about it -- not to mention timely. As the film's few good characters fell by the wayside, I cared less and less about those who remained (especially the annoying boy). I still consider the first film the gorier of the two, however, mainly because there are far fewer zombies vomiting up blood all over the place in this sequel.

The ending of 28 Weeks Later obviously lays the groundwork for a third film in the series, so expect a question or two to go unanswered here. While I was not anxious to see any sequel to the disappointing 28 Days Later, the improvements seen in this film give me hope that a third movie would definitely have potential. The "less plot, more action" approach so in evidence here indicates to me that director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo recognized the extent of the plot problems inherent in Danny Boyle's original film, so the third time might truly be the charm.

review by
Daniel Jolley

14 August 2010

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