Ginger Nuts of Horror
Films That Matter 28 Days Later To Zombie or not to Zombie, to run or not to run, that is the question! Or at least it is when considering Danny Boyle's seminal horror flick 28 Days Later. Chatting to author Rich Hawkins, we've come to the conclusion that though technically not a zombie flick (the infected are enraged but alive) 28 Days Later is often regarded as such. So now it begs a question. If we accept that at its basic level, this is a zombie film, should zombies run, or not?
Granted, zombies did run before this film was released, but Boyle's fantastic movie brought the running 'zombie' closer to the attention of horror audiences. So, do you like your Romero shamblers or your sprinters?
In Zac Schnyder's Dawn of the Dead remake with Vingh Rhames, the zombies are full on sprinters, and though it lacks the humour and pathos of Romero's original Dawn, the remake is a whole lot of fun and there is a different kind of fear and tension at play. Take, for instance, the opening scenes where Sarah Polley finds herself attacked by her recently reanimated fiancé. Her desperate scramble through the tight window of the bathroom certainly sets the pulse a racing!
So, back to 28 Days - according to Francesca Quigley, this film is particularly awesome, it "brings the terror to life, shows very early in there's no second chances. You get bit, you get shot."
For John Gorman, it truly is a scary film, and the speed of the zombies/not zombies adds to the fear factor. "As a fat guy ... This film scares the shit outa me."
Wise words John, or as Rich says, "Get training John."
So, why does this film work so well? Firstly, it has some of the most edge of your seat scenes. The tyre changing scene and the stair chase in the tower block for starters are fantastic. But for me, it's not the speed of the not zom - oh hell, I'm just gonna call them zombies for Christ Sake - it's the characters.
Let's start with a scene just after the opening - Cillian Murphy, who is a sterling actor by the way, awakens after a bike crash, emaciated, pulling a dry drip out of his arm (a nod to the Walking Dead Kieran Rose suggests or a homage to 'Day of the Triffids' according to Rich) to a desolate, empty hospital, wandering the abandoned streets of London, desperate for any sight of humanity. This memorable scene was filmed in the wee early hours of the morning to capture the vibe of an empty city.
Murphy's fear is palpable. What is going on? What the hell has happened to his home, to everyone he loves? The silence of a deserted city is deafening. And when he first encounters a zombie, then eventually gets to his home and finds his parents the emotional resonance and impact is incredibly impressive. We really feel for him. He is a real person, not a cypher for the zombies to attack and kill. And as for the infection, 'rage' it is instantaneous. Scary.
With no one answering his plea for help, Jim enters an abandoned church in hope of salvation. All he finds is chaos. An infected priest who, well, just needs a snack! It is to be fair quite similar to a scene from Resident Evil Two with Alice. But it isn't long before Jim is saved by a couple of humans. The scenes of destruction are quite effective having being filmed in Black and White tones with sparks of red fire.
Throughout his attempt to survive, Jim hooks up with a small group including Selena (Naomie Harris) and Frank (Brendan Gleeson).
Their perilous journey gets the group into all sorts of scrapes, but when they encounter a band of soldiers led by Christopher Eccleston, things get distinctively worse. Selena and young girl Hannah (Megan Burns) Are held captive and are about to be raped, which is By the way handled sensitively and respectively, before Selena can take control and before Jim can save them. You would think I would object to the females being saved by the male character, but not so. The scene highlights Jim's temporary degeneration into a creature bent on revenge almost as brutal as the zombies themselves.
Released in 2002, this film invigorated the decaying zombie genre with its introduction of the 'fast' zombie. This is pretty simply, a game changer, and a film that every respectable horror fan needs to watch. The performances, script and tight direction add pace and tension to the film, making this an absolute classic. So, back to our question. To run or not to run?
What's your vote? Do tell.
GINGER NUTS OF HORROR, THE HEART AND SOUL OF HORROR REVIEWS