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Review: 28 Weeks Later (2007)

28 Weeks Later (2007)

Directed by: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

Premise: A sequel to 28 Days Later. In the original film, the Rage virus, a disease transferred by bodily fluids that turns people in rabid, cannibalistic zombies, spread throughout the United Kingdom. In this film, American-led NATO forces have quarantined an island and English survivors have started to return home, but the threat of the virus rises again.

What Works: 28 Weeks Later is a very successful horror film. It is able to pull off the jump moments but it is also able to create an effective atmosphere and maintain it throughout the picture. Like its predecessor, 28 Weeks Later is able to differentiate itself from the many other zombie films that have been released in the past few years. The style of the film is very convincing and uses handheld cinematography that gives it a personal feel but at the same time there are some set pieces and scenarios that have a broad scope. The two elements complement each other very well. Despite some extremely violent content, 28 Weeks Later has some very beautiful sequences such as a napalm attack on urban areas. Also differentiating it from other horror films, 28 Weeks Later has a very strong emotional center. The central story revolves around two children (Shahid Ahmed and Amanda Walker) who have returned to England and reunited with their father (Robert Carlyle) and struggle to reunify as a family when their mother (Catherine McCormack), who was believed dead, reappears infected but resisting the virus. This strong family center gives the story emotional weight, making the viewing experience not just scary but also very moving. On top of all of this, like the zombie films of George A. Romero (in particular Night of the Living Dead, and Land of the Dead), 28 Weeks Later has some contemporary elements that make it a piece of social commentary. The film is pretty clearly referencing anxieties about terrorism, especially the conflict in Iraq. As a metaphor, the film is able to do what horror does best: take contemporary issues and present them to audiences in a way that will make us face our fears in a palatable fashion.

What Doesn’t: The film is a little slow in its first act, but it uses this time to set up character relationships and to establish tone and setting. While that’s not bad, some fans of more action oriented zombie films might find 28 Weeks Later a little too slow to start. 

Bottom Line: 28 Weeks Later is one of the best horror films to be released in years and it deserves to sit next to Munich, Fahrenheit 9/11, Kingdom of Heaven, and United 93 amid the pinnacles of post-9/11 filmmaking. It is also a very satisfying piece of entertainment that delivers on both emotional and intellectual levels.

Episode: #141 (May 20, 2007)