Tuesday, November 01, 2016
28 Days Later
Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Alex Garland, 28 Days Later is the story of a young man waking from the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse as he and other survivors try to find a way to survive and evade other zombies. The film is a zombie movie that is set in Britain where survivors of an apocalypse try to comprehend what had just happened as they deal with a new yet unruly world. Starring Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, and Christopher Eccleston. 28 Days Later is a harrowing yet rapturous film from Danny Boyle.
A young man wakes up after being comatose for 28 days where he wakes up having missed a zombie apocalypse that has wreaked havoc all over Britain where he would meet a few survivors as they try to find civilization and evade the zombies. That is pretty much what the film is about as it revolves around those who survived an apocalypse caused by a bunch of idiotic animal activists who tried to release monkeys who were infected with rage as it leads to an outbreak that lasted nearly a month leaving Britain in a state of chaos with very little hope. Alex Garland’s screenplay begins with this incident caused by activists and then has the narrative shift to 28 days later where a young man wakes up in a hospital unaware of what had happened until he meets a few survivors. He would also get a glimpse of what is happening as there are some zombies still roaming around London as he and some survivors try to find a place where they can be protected. Yet, they would also have to deal with some dark aspects of humanity as well as revelations about the outbreak and what is going on outside of Britain.
It’s not just in the narrative and the severity of what is at stake that makes Garland’s script so interesting. It’s also in the characters as the protagonist Jim (Cillian Murphy) is someone that is taken aback by this new reality he’s encountered as well as what he has to do to survive. Upon meeting Selena (Naomie Harris) who saved him during an attack, he would be forced to accept this reality as Selena is someone who has been hardened by the zombie apocalypse. Yet, she isn’t sure if there is any kind of hope while isn’t eager to cling on to some kind of humanity until she and Jim meet Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his teenage daughter Hannah (Megan Burns) where they’re both able to find a void that had been lost since the apocalypse. Once they find shelter in the form of a military blockade led by Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston), the survivors would only see the dark aspects of humanity prompting Jim to do whatever to save himself and his new friends.
Danny Boyle’s direction is definitely stylish as it’s got a look that is very de-saturated in its digital-video photography as well as something that looks surreal. Shot on location in London as well as other parts of Britain as it play into a world that has collapsed where Britain is now abandoned with very little hope. The film’s opening sequence is quite chilling as it shows a chimpanzee watching images of violence and terror where a group of activists break in to try and free these chimps only for a scientist pleading for them to not as all hell breaks loose. Then the film goes into its main narrative following a montage over the zombie apocalypse as it play into Jim discovering this new world of abandonment and loss. Boyle’s usage of wide and medium shots play into the location as well as that sense of uncertainty where many of its locations are in ruins or abandoned while the rural settings seem more calm. Boyle’s usage of handheld cameras play into the close-ups as well as the immediacy of the action as the zombies are fast-moving and more vicious in their presentation.
While Boyle would put in some light-hearted moments as well as scenes that are funny such as a supermarket sequence where Jim, Selena, Hannah, and Frank go on a shopping spree inside an abandoned supermarket. It is still a suspense-horror film of sorts where the third act is very unsettling where the characters not only have to deal with Major West and his crew but what they want to do to ensure their future. It’s a part of humanity that Jim doesn’t like as well as some harsh truths about what has happened where it is clear that there are those who are trying to rebuild society on their own terms. For Jim, what he would do isn’t just providing some sense of hope but also do something about it in dealing with the fact that not all of humanity are just as bad as the zombies. Overall, Boyle creates a thrilling and evocative film about human survivors dealing with the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse.
Cinematographer Anthony Dodd Mantle does incredible work with the film‘s de-saturated digital video photography as it has this grimy look in the way many of the colors look and feel like as well as in the way some of the interiors and exteriors scenes at night look. Editor Chris Gill does brilliant work with the editing with its usage of jump-cuts as well as some of the playful rhythms to play into light-hearted moments and the scenes of horror. Production designer Mark Tildesley, with set decorator Fanny Taylor and supervising art director Mark Digby, does excellent work with the look of London in its ruined state as well as the mansion that Major West and his men live in. Costume designer Rachel Fleming does nice work with the costumes as it is mostly casual with the exception of the uniforms the soldiers wear.
Makeup designer Sallie Jaye does amazing work with the makeup design in the way the zombies look in their decayed state as it captures every bit of detail into how deadly they look. Sound designer Glenn Freemantle does fantastic work with the sound editing/design in creating some unique sound effects as well as the layered sounds of chaos and terror that play into some of the frenetic moments of the film. The film’s music by John Murphy is superb for its electronic-based score that feature some beat-driven pieces as well as some ambient cuts while the soundtrack features music from Brian Eno, Grandaddy, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Blue States as it plays to the mixture of serenity and terror.
The casting by Gail Stevens is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from David Schneider as the scientist in the film’s opening sequence, Noah Huntley as a survivor named Mark that Jim meets early in the film, Stuart McQuarrie as the soldier Sgt. Farrell who is the most sensible soldier of the platoon, and Ricci Hartnett as Cpl. Mitchell who sees Hannah and Selena as objects he can impregnate for the future. Christopher Eccleston is superb as Major Henry West as a military leader who is trying to maintain some order for his troops and survivors while having his own ideas about what to do for the future. Brendan Gleeson is excellent as Frank as a cab driver who is kind of this fraternal figure of sorts as he has his own daughter to care for while being a source of comfort for both Jim and Selena who both lost their own families.
Megan Burns is fantastic as Hannah as Frank’s teenage daughter who is trying to cope with the situation as well as be someone that is able to get things done while becoming scared once she learns what the soldiers want from her. Naomie Harris is brilliant as Selena as a survivor who starts off as a cynical woman trying to survive for herself thinking there is no hope only to regain some compassion upon meeting Jim, Frank, and Hannah where she becomes a big sister of sorts for Hannah. Finally, there’s Cillian Murphy in a phenomenal performance as Jim as a bicycle courier who wakes up from a 28-day coma as he discovers what happened to the world where he copes with loss as well as try to hold on to some hope as it is a real breakthrough for Murphy.
28 Days Later is a spectacular film from Danny Boyle that features great performances from Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, and Brendan Gleeson. It’s a zombie film that isn’t just exhilarating and scary but also a film manages to showcase how humanity copes with the aftermath of an apocalypse and survive while trying to do some good. In the end, 28 Days Later is a tremendous film from Danny Boyle.
Danny Boyle Films: Shallow Grave - Trainspotting - A Life Less Ordinary - The Beach - Millions - Sunshine - Slumdog Millionare - 127 Hours - Trance - Steve Jobs - T2 Trainspotting - (Yesterday (2019 film))
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