repent! for the end is extremely fucking nigh!

K and I watched 28 Days Later last night. When I was in high school, I had a friend who was a slasher/horror movie fanatic. He kept posters and cut-outs from Fangoria all over his walls. So, as much of our time was spent watching videos in his parents’ basement, horror was on the menu much of the time.

One of my favourite sub-genres was the zombie flick. It was always surprising how successful the formula became, despite its inherent faults. Once the undead rose, they would lurch toward the victims, really, really slowly like a bunch of drunks at the end of a binge-a-thon. This proved to be little obstacle for the undead as the victims were easily tripped up by randomly distributed planks of wood, loose shoelaces, blades of grass, etc. So it was often quite easy for the zombies to catch up with their prey. And why do they ever so slowly chase the living? To eat their brains. Have you ever tried to eat someone’s brain? It’s not easy. You have to get the victim to hold still then you still have to deal with the hard skull in which your lunch is incased. You’d think a stomach organ would be easier, but no, it’s gotta be brains. And so, these lumbering drunks give themselves an impossible task and somehow manage to overrun the world. There’s a quick recap of the history of zombie movies here, going back from 1932’s semi-classic White Zombie to Romero’s living dead films.

So, “28 Days Later” is nice addition to the genre that maintains a lot of the conventions of the earlier films but takes a few liberties to bring it up to date. The zombies aren’t really undead, just infected with a disease called rage. And they’re nimble little guys who aren’t after your brain, just you. Plus rage is spread through blood and saliva and given their penchant for projectile blood vomiting, makes the disease pretty easy to catch.

But the movie’s budget is keep low as it was shot on digital video with no big name actors (although as K points out, it can’t be too low budget as the director managed to empty huge parts of London so that couldn’t have been cheap to do). But it maintains that sense of dread that you feel in the best of the zombie flicks. Sure, you might survive and get away from the undead but the world has gone to total shit so how much of a victory is it? It does honestly contain some frightening parts using a “less is more” technique. You don’t see the infected too much and the film stays away from too much humour which can take the air out of a scene that would be otherwise scary. It’ll interesting to see the types of imitators this film spawns.

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