Look at me, seeing more movies in the past few weeks than for most of last year…
28 Weeks Later is the zombie-filled sequel to Danny Boyle’s terrific 28 Days Later, which sort of single-handedly brought the zombie film back into vogue. This new film picks up—you guessed it—six months after the first as a U.S.-led NATO force slowly begins to repopulate a restricted area of London with surviving residents. Most notable among the cast is a defeated-looking Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting, The Full Monty, Tomorrow Never Dies), who flees to London in time to join his children as they are returned to the quarantined area.
The film takes handheld camera work to a nauseating and uncomfortable level within the first few minutes in order to capture the violence and confusion of a large-scale zombie attack, but thankfully the filming flattens out from there and returns to a greater sense of order in London. The zombie special effects are horrifying not because they people look so gross, but because they still look so human, just coughing and spitting up blood and snarling instead of, you know, reciting poems and drinking wine.
Overall, I enjoyed the film, although the “family” aspect of it was a tad overdone. The two actors who played the kids did a fine job of capturing fear and vulnerability with the recklessness and hubris of youth, and the actress who played the chief medical officer, while often espousing dull dialogue (can you say e-x-p-o-s-i-t-i-o-n?), did good work too. What I loved about this film was the way it built most of its characters—the director focused more on silent close-ups to reveal what the characters wanted and needed rather than resorting to dialogue.
It was timely seeing this film the same wee as Distubria. Both films evidence a preoccupation with being watched or monitored—and, to some degree, threatened by the unseeable. In a post-9/11 world and particularly in America, where the Patriot Act promises to tattle on our phone conversations, library check-out histories, and other private or privileged information, this preoccupation is becoming more pronouned. In 28 Weeks Later, like in America, the citizens are closely monitored by video cameras, snipers, and ground troops “for their own safety,” while in Disturbia is it precisely our irresistible urge to look back that causes most of the problems. In each film, these situations are far from ideal. After all, wouldn’t we be safer if we were unaware of the eyes on us or what goes on next door?
Further food for thought: saw a preview for Captivity before this film, in which Elisha Cuthbert is inexplicably kidnapped by someone who has been watching her for months—and then proceeds to monitor her activities remotely while she is trapped…somewhere. Add to the list films like the Saw franchise, and you could say that Americans are positively paranoid about being watched.