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Volume 68, Issue 152, Monday, June 30, 2003

Arts & Entertainment

'28 Days Later' fast, fun zombie thriller

By Jason Gagnon
The Daily Cougar

28 Days Later is the latest film from famed director Danny Boyle (Shallow Grave and Trainspotting) that takes him into a new territory: horror. Zombie horror to be exact. The film is frankly the best zombie movie to come out in years. It's original, fun and frightening. But beyond the surface it's clear Boyle has taken the route of many 1970s horror directors and used the film to mirror and comment on the atrocities occurring in the world today.

Speaking of the '70s and zombie movies, the film does have similarities to George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead in plot but manages to distance itself towards the second act.

Cillian Murphy stars as Jim in director Danny Boyle's zombie movie, 28 Days Later.

Peter Mountain/Fox Searchlight

The story begins in an animal research facility where a group of hippie activists have broken in, determined to free the tortured monkeys in a certain wing. A scientist stumbles upon the group and warns them the animals have been infected with a virus and are highly contagious. Of course, the tree-huggers don't heed his words and release one of the animals. The animal proceeds to attack the group and from there the virus spreads.

Then we meet Jim, who awakens from a coma in a hospital to find London completely deserted except for the "infected" (as the zombies are known) and a few people just trying to survive. Things are very grim for Jim and his new friends until they meet other survivors who know where there are soldiers in the country who can protect them. Will they make it and start a new society or will they fall victim to the infected?

What really works for 28 Days Later is Boyle's ability to build suspense, something that has been lacking in horror films these days. Instead of resorting to the annoying "jump scares" the director takes time to immerse you in the harsh reality of the world before the zombies come to attack.

The Romero influence was mentioned earlier, but these zombies are a far cry from the ones that exist in his Dead Trilogy. The "infected" are fast and ruthless. They don't just trot along waiting for someone to slip and fall. They run, jump and scream and are frightening to watch. This also helps the film retain tension since the audience isn't waiting 20 minutes for someone to die.

The gore factor is pretty tame for a zombie movie except for when the "infected" vomit up blood. The attacks have a lot of quick cuts, so you know that someone is being brutally attacked, but you don't see everything. For this film, less is more, and it adds to the tone.

The only problem some viewers may have with the movie is that it was shot on digital video and has a grainy texture to it. But it doesn't detract from the mood of the film. It forces the audience to realize the tragic world in which our protagonists live and to focus on their struggles instead of the visuals.

28 Days Later

Rated: R

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris

Fox Searchlight

The verdict: 28 Days Later is a smart and scary zombie movie that is more than worth your money.

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