I caught up with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's sequel to the excellent and truly terrifying 28 Days Later at a 10.30am session on Sunday, with only about six other people in the theatre at Melbourne Central, so for once I wasn't distracted from the screen by idiots' phones, chattering and etc.
Following the accidental release of the experimental 'Rage' virus from a research lab, which turns those infected into ravening, red-eyed psychotic killers, Britain has been devastated (as seen in the original film, a contemporary zombie movie in everything but name, directed by Danny Boyle and starring versatile Irishman Cillian Murphy). The population has been wiped out, while the infected have eventually starved to death. Now, 28 weeks later, a US-led military force has begun to repopulate London, starting with the so-called 'Green Zone' on the Isle of Dogs.
The film follows one of the few survivors, Don (Robert Carlyle) first as he saves his own life at the cost of his wife's, and then later as he is reunited with his children, who were holidaying in Spain when the virus first struck, in London. This being a horror film, of course, it's not long before the virus strikes again, and all hell breaks loose. Within a matter of minutes the military have lost control of the situation; and if at this poi9nt you're wondering how much of the film is a not-so-subtle commentary on the situation in Iraq, you're not the only one...
Opening with a sequence of magnificent and palpable tension and chaos, 28 Weeks Later fails to sustain this mood throughout, perhaps thankfully - it would be one hell of a gut-wrenching movie if it did. Nonetheless it has some masterful - and one especially stomach-churning - set pieces, thanks in part ot a bigger budget, which means more military hardware to play with, more extras, and more special effects - including a stunning scene of central London being firebombed in a desperate attempt to stop the infected from running amok in the city. The production design is superb, the cinematography strong, the shocks suitably confronting. Shame then, that the plot has significant holes in it; the mood is not sustained throughout; and characterisation of the leads is minimal.
Not a film for the faint-hearted, nor the overly critical, 28 Weeks Later is nonetheless an enjoyable, and at times disturbing romp; or perhaps 'shamble' would be a more appropriate word under the circumstances, although these zombies don't shamble silently, or moan: they shrick, scream, roar and run, drooling blood all the while.
Three decapitations via rotor blades out of five.