Wednesday, 9 May 2007

28 Weeks Later- Review by Joseph Wren

Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Screenwriter: Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Jesus Olmo, E. L. Lavigne
Runtime: 99 min
Certificate: 18
Release Date: May 11

I don’t care for horror films. They tend to be formulaic, predictable, and lose steam after about 30 minutes. They’re generally full of manipulative sounds, dumbed-down dialogue, and absurd scenarios. I was wishing against it, but 28 Weeks Later is guilty of all of this. I saw 2002’s 28 Days Later because I wanted to see what Danny Boyle was up to, and it ended up being one of my favourite films of that year. What made it stand out was its smart attention to character, brilliant soundtrack, haunting images of empty London streets, and a thrilling screenplay by Alex Garland. A sequel didn’t quite seem necessary, but here we are, with a bigger budget, Robert Carlyle, and a proper global release.

Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s 28 Weeks Later begins where Boyle’s film left off - a group of uninfected survivors hiding from the "infecteds" in a countryside cottage. None of Boyle’s cast remain here, so we’re following the story of Don (Carlyle), who escapes an attack by the hungry beasties, though his wife is not so fortunate. Cut ahead to six months later, where a healthy Don is re-united with his two children in a slightly re-populated London that has been taken over by the bone-headed US military. The virus seems to have been eradicated - or has it? Queue zombie apocalypse. Quickly the US military start killing everyone in sight, regardless of their affiliation with the undead, and innocent people try real hard not to die.

Aside from the blunt political undertones, little in the story here is thoughtful enough to distinguish 28 Weeks Later from the video game level of maturity of the Blade or Resident Evil films, and it certainly never even comes near the emotional level of its predecessor. However, Fresnadillo has smartly kept up with Boyle’s audio/visual style to ensure that your senses are sufficiently battered - cameras zip frantically through claustrophobic venues full of flailing bloody bits whilst the slamming soundtrack properly enhances the excitement, hopeful to give moviegoers the thrill that is expected. But we’re seen this all before, and the story just lies around waiting to get trampled by the ravenous hordes, though I’m afraid the indecisive nature of the story may be to leave the door open for another pointless sequel.

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