31 Nights of Horror - Night Two: 28 Days Later (2002)

I remember first watching this film with the expectations of it being "scary as hell". That's what the trailers kept saying. It wasn't. It was fuckin' fantastic, though.

After the events of September 11th, 2001...Hollywood was in a very weird place and so was, for that matter, our genre of horror. Films that were released afterward mostly dealt with supernatural themes and stuff that stayed away from anything involving more grand scale type horror. Well, in 2003...28 Days Later came out and boasted something that we were finally prepared to see. An intelligent zombie/infected film that touched on several more social themes and notions than just the undead running around infecting others. It might be smarter than Romero's first foray into the sub-genre. I know...I know...that's kind of a bold statement. But, seriously....28 Days Later is a unique take on what Romero introduced decades ago.

I love a good zombie/infected movie as much as the next guy...but, this one's directed by Danny Boyle. What does that mean?? Well...I guess you've never seen Trainspotting then, huh? 28 Days Later basically took the tired zombie genre and injected it with life. What if you woke up one day in a hospital all by yourself. You get up to have a look around and there's nobody. The world has vanished. You are all alone....or are you?

No...you're not. In fact everyone that you've loved or known is dead or has become infected with "rage"...a virus that turns you into a mindless blood-spewing maniac. That's pretty much the premise of the film. However, Boyle takes the premise and turns it into so much more. There's a story of staying together with the family that you find along the way. There's a commentary on how man can be selfish and elitist. There's a father and daughter side story. There's the ever looming idea that mankind will one day invent something that wipes us all out. And buried in this gore spectacle of a horror film is a story of love and trusting your heart to light your way in moments of darkness. Anyone can make a story about mindless lunatics out for your blood. But, only Danny Boyle can make something special...something timeless. Something that takes the genre staple and flips around...making something all together new and fresh.

28 Days Later is almost ten years old and still feels ground-breaking. It has so many colorful visuals as well as breath-taking artistry done with impeccable craftsmanship. Make no mistake though, Boyle can take a quiet scene and rev it up to 120 in seconds. I mean...this is where the whole "running zombies" argument was started. What's that you say?? Zombies can't run. They're supposed to be a symbol of slow impending death? Fuck all that, chief....if these mofos smell your blood...you better have your New Balances on and make like Carl Lewis dashing for the gold. I get the whole slow limp zombie thing and that can be scary to some degree. But, if a hissing lunatic with red eyes sprints for me...I think I'm due for a change of undergarments.....just sayin'.

This film has stood the test of time and only gets better after every watch. With Halloween approaching...what better way than to snuggle up in the dark with this entry into the horror world and see how far a film can bend the limitations of a simplistic genre staple. There has been a luke-warm sequel to this masterpiece along with a planned third entry that has some talk of Boyle stepping into the director's chair once again. But, this is where it all started....ground zero. A "zombie" film that came after the events of 9/11 and shook us into a different state of fear.

5 out of 5

Thanks for reading,