[[image:28dl00.jpg:Jim guesses he shouldn’t have farted that loudly:center:0]]I never fail to wince watching Danny Boyle’s movies. So far I’ve seen a couple. I winced when watching Trainspotting. I winced watching Shallow Grave. (I’ve never seen Pillow Book or A Life Less Ordinary so I can’t comment on those.)
And certainly there are many wince-inducing scenes in 28 Days Later.
The story begins when members of an animal liberating group attempt to release a chimpanzee from a lab. A lab technician catches them in the act, implores them not to release the animal. It’s infected, he says. With what, they ask.
Despite the lab tech’s pleas, they uncage the chimp, whose first act was to bite its liberator. The person bitten starts convulsing with her pupils turning blood red and violently attacks her companions in the process throwing up a mixture of blood and vomit onto them. Then everyone starts attacking each other.
[[image:28dl01.jpg:That’s why everyone buys the Sun instead:left:0]]Cut to 28 days later…
Jim (Cillian Murphy who would later star as Scarecrow in Batman Begins) awakes from a coma alone in a London hospital room. Exploring around, he discovers that the entire hospital and ultimately the entire London is deserted. He reads on abandoned newstands of a plague that was sweeping through Great Britain for 4 weeks. Soon he learns that he isn’t really alone. The infected are about and totally running on animalistic and violent instinct, growling ferally and eyes blood red.
28 Days Later… is a zombie movie without any traditional cinematic zombies, just humans infected with some sort of disease that causes them to go feral, infect other humans and tear uninfected humans apart with their bare hands just because.[[image:28dl02.jpg:Conjunctivitis can be hell on a guy:right:0]]
Danny Boyle manages to evoke a nightmarish post-apocalyptic London with images of a totally deserted Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street and Westminster Bridge in broad daylight. Building and cars are abandoned. There is an familiar red London double decker bus on its side in the middle of the street.
Cillian Murphy reminded me very much of Tom Welling. He carries the film pretty well. We see the movie and the world around him through his eyes. We are forced to put ourselves in his shoes and wonder if we could survive his ordeal or do the things he’s supposed to in his position. When he has to do the things he do, it makes us wince.
Of course he meets other uninfected humans. It is the drama between the survivors that also keeps us on our toes. When someone gets a infected by tainted blood, you realized that they only have seconds to slash the person with a machete before he turns on them. When they’ve been enjoying the peace for so long, you’re just expecting something shocking and nightmarish to appear on screen, trying to catch you off guard.
[[image:28dl03.jpg:I asked for Billie Piper, dammit!:left:0]]And when they finally find respite in the form of the armed forces… the nightmare really begins. It was great seeing Christopher Eccleston here as Major West. He previously starred with Ewan McGregor in another of Danny Boyle’s movie Shallow Grave.
Not everyone makes it 28 days later, but the path towards the ending is beset on all sides by things that would make you wince in horror and despair, not only for the actions of the infected but also fellow uninfected humans when thrust into dire circumstances.