Darkness and suspense prevail in 28 Weeks Later, a terrifying sequel to Danny Boyle's 2002 hit 28 Days Later.
Six months after the outbreak of the Rage virus, which converts people into flesh-eating zombies, ripped through the U.K., the crisis has been contained. With the infection apparently eliminated, the U.S. Army steps in to supervise the reconstruction of London so repopulation can begin.
Among the refugees returning to the safe zone are 12-year-old Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) and his older sister Tammy (Imogen Poots), who were separated during the outbreak but have since been reunited with their father (Robert Carlyle). But the kids' longing for their missing mother soon leads to a security breach that causes the virus to reappear.
Unable to stop the reinfection, the military executes Code Red and decides to kill everyone, whether or not they have been infected.
The unsettling 28 Weeks Later almost lives up to the level of its predecessor. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo directs with style, insisting on the constant use of unsteady camera work and of as little lighting as possible. That provokes a sense of disorientation that often makes it hard to distinguish between who – or what – is attacking whom as the viewer is pulled into a reality of nonstop mayhem.
The film, however, does not serve the exclusive purpose of dishing out scare after scare. The amount of splattered blood notwithstanding, 28 Weeks Later offers some disturbing social commentary. Images of American armed forces choosing to shoot an entire populace so as to eradicate a deadly virus is a clear parallel to the ongoing war in Iraq.
Admittedly, the screenplay by Fresnadillo, Jesús Olmo, Enrique López Lavigne, and Rowan Joffe occasionally lapses into absurdity, while several acts of heroism feel phony. That said, the filmmakers perfectly succeed in plunging their audience into their world of chaos. As a plus, Fresnadillo gets an excellent performance out of newcomer Mackintosh Muggleton.
Some zombie flicks engage viewers through a combination of satire, dark humor, and gore, a formula that – if well executed – can work just fine. 28 Weeks Later aims a little higher. The result will haunt audiences long after the film's clever final shot gives way to the end credits.
© Franck Tabouring.
28 Weeks Later (2007). Dir.: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. Scr.: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Jesús Olmo, Enrique López Lavigne, and Rowan Joffe. Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rose Byrne, Catherine McCormack, Robert Carlyle, Imogen Poots, Idris Elba, Mackintosh Muggleton.