When a movie opens with a montage of violent revolts playing on monitors and pans over to a chimpanzee strapped to a table with electrodes and wires stuck on its head in a laboratory, you know it's not going to end well.
Nothing good ever comes from chimpanzees strapped to a table.
By the time the PETA hugging eco-terrorists are mauled by the very animals they're there to rescue (much to the amusement of the meat-eaters in the audience), before turning on each other in a blood-soaked rage, you know we're in infected human zombie territory.
In 2002 Danny Boyle , the director of Trainspotting and the under-appreciated Shallow Grave , decided to tackle the end of the world in 28 Days Later. The resultant movie is a film that both pays homage to Romero's original Dead Trilogy (and movies like The Omega Man ) and updates the whole spiel with a nifty twist here and there.
The first change from the classic Zombie formila is the fact that they aren't "Zombies" at all, in the traditional sense. Here there is an outbreak of a "Psychological Virus" that turns those infected into rampaging flesh-mongering homicidal maniacs who vomit gore and scream alot. Being as how they aren't reanimated corpses, the infected here can run, jump, play hop-scotch, and tear you to shreds in a matter of moments. The flip side is that, while they are stronger and faster than the non-infected humans, they are every bit as mortal, so there's no special considerations to killing them... other than making sure you don't get any of their infected blood in yours, which leads us to the other change in the formula.
Another cliche in zombie cinema is the human that gets bitten and slowly dies from the infection, only to turned into a zombie at a dramatic moment. The change here is that a single drop of blood is enough to transform anyone into an infected in a matter of seconds, which leads to a few intense moments in the picture where allies become enemies in the course of a few moments.
Being a Danny Boyle picture, this movie is filled to the brim with slick visuals and great music. The ten-minute sequence where the main character (played by a then-relatively-unknown Cillian Murphy of Batman Begins and Boyle's own Sunshine fame) walks shell-shocked through a desolate and deserted London is incredible. The infected attacks are equally well shot, filled with intensity and energy.
As a matter of fact, with great dramatic turns by Christopher Eccleston, Brendan Gleeson, and Naomie Harris, one could be legitimate in the concern that 28 Days Later might not be suited for a gathering dedicated to Schlocky pictures. But I will argue that the energy, intensity, and the sheer rocking quality of the infected attacks stacked with the sheer creepy atmosphere throughout the rest of the picture make this a good addition to any marathon. However, if you're going for more carnage, and want to stick in the 28 XX Later universe, 28 Weeks Later had more appearances of the howling masses, and was a solid pic that, for the most part, lived up to the original's quality.
But if you're simply looking for a fantastically stimulating flick that hits all the high points of the zombie genre, while still stimulating reinventing it, you can't go wrong with 28 Days Later.
You know, it isn't often we actually get a "good film" in the Cavalcade, and I'm still not entirely sure whether that's good or bad.