28 Weeks Later

2007-09-17 15:43
What we thought of it:

Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is hungry. In fact the 39-year-old Spaniard may be the only thing hungrier than the “infected” in this, his English language debut. He’s already directed an acclaimed Spanish film (Intacto) and an Oscar winning short (Esposados), but Fresnadillo certainly isn’t satisfied yet. He has grabbed 28 Weeks Later away from its parents (Brits Danny Boyle and Alex Garland), and turned it into his own film with a new crew and a new cast. And? It’s a gory, grim and compulsively watchable film.

On one hand 28 Weeks Later follows all the rules of traditional horror movie sequels. It’s bigger, brasher and much, much bloodier. Fresnadillo’s vision (along with his co-writers Rowan Joffe and Jesús Olmo) is uncompromising. Everyone and everything is expendable, and the result is a movie as harrowing as it’s grimly effective.

On the other hand, Fresnadillo does bring a fresh aesthetic to the film. It’s shot on grainy 16mm film, and we’re constantly watching the characters and events through CCTV cameras, sniper rifle scopes and from hovering helicopters. This constant point-of-view approach puts us inside the action, even when we would rather be somewhere else. They’ve also managed to achieve and sustain a sense of emptiness and isolation while shooting in a living London city, which is no mean feat (particularly considering the number of aerial shots in the film).

That said, the sequel is a far more one-track and derivative affair than Boyle’s original. Too often it swops suspense for gore, and fast paced action for human drama. 28 Days Later, like all of Garland and Boyle’s collaborations, had an intriguing moral and philosophical core around which the action turned. For Fresnadillo, the gore is the core, and the morality is just the icing on the cake.

Still, if you’re a fan of the zombie genre, you don’t get much slicker and scarier than 28 Weeks Later. You’d never guess this was Fresnadillo’s first horror film, from his uncanny ability to ratchet up both the tension and the terror. He has some help from a grimly effective score by John Murphy, and the equally gritty cinematography of Enrique Chediak, but it’s Fresnadillo that really holds the film on its relentless track.

So if you’re hungry for a bit of old fashioned blood ‘n guts, then 28 Weeks Later is your kind of movie. But you’d better have a strong stomach. Watching a husband gouge his wife’s eyes out or a family tearing each other apart are - to Fresnadillo - mere appetisers for the main event. And, like when you’re passing a terrible road accident, it’s awfully hard to look away.

- Alistair Fairweather
What it’s about:

It’s been over six months since the deadly "rage virus" swept through mainland Britain, turning millions of people into mindless, blood-spewing killers. With the help of US armed forces, the few remaining British citizens have begun to return home. What they don’t realise is that the virus still lurks amid the ruins of London, but in a form they could never have anticipated.

Denise 2007/08/11 2:41 PM
28 Weeks Later This is not a glitzy easy to follow American movie but a very hard to follow European movie. Alistair Fairweather is kind, because I would have been a lot harsher on it. Yes, the shots of London, both from the ground and the air are spectacular, but I was left wanting more. More often than not it slides into the nouveau genre, with a dark screen full of the sounds of screaming, tearing and biting. Yes, this may have bought the rating down but I would have preferred to have seen the action rather than just heard it. In that final confusing events we lost a main charactor to the infected. It took me about 10 minutes to realise this, so lost in the darkly directed on-screen action was she. Nevertheless, it wasn't a total waste of my time, and a I look forward to the next installment - the use of a well known structure in the final climatic scene was a clever touch.
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