Monday, May 21, 2007

Movie Review: 28 Weeks Later

Zombie - Voodoo Class: (semi-mythological) These were once presumed to be the recently dead reanimated as a mindless servant of a voodoo priest. Today we know they're merely people given the illusion of death by a mixture of puffer fish toxin and select herbs. The toxin causes brain damage that destroys free will in the victim so that they become mindless slaves. The illusion of death thing makes sure that the victim won't be missed by their families.

Zombie - Romero Class: (mythological) Voodoo Class zombies make for lousy movie characters. Without orders they just sit there. Most of the scare comes from not wanting to become one. But if you take the basic definition of zombie as "reanimated dead", give them self direction, and a taste for human flesh you have something worth filming. They're usually brought back by a virus from space or overpopulation issues in Hell. Being reanimated dead they're not terribly energetic. It's thought that they have a low metabolism and probably exothermic. They tend to move slowly but unrelentingly. George Romero regrets that he didn't copyright this variety when he put them in "Night of the Living Dead."

Zombie - Rage Class: (mythological) Since they're not really dead it's sort of a stretch to call these zombies. It's more like rabies with lightning reflexes. It's transmitted through the blood and has a nearly instantaneous effect. Once infected they fly into a berzerker rage and try to kill anything in sight. They have only two modes: running and killing. This variety was created for the movie "28 Days Later" and returns in "28 Weeks Later".
Premovie summary: Following the outbreak of zombie virus in England the bulk of the population was evacuated. The virus was quarantined to the British isle and the decision was made to wait it out. Five months after the initial outbreak it appears the last of the zombies have died. However, there is much we don't know about the virus and can't be sure that it has died off. I recommend selecting a small population from one of the refugee camps and returning them to a confined part of an area that was once highly infected. If the virus has survived it would be most likely in an area with a large population. We can have an area of London cleared of bodies and ready for repopulation by the 28 week mark. If this colony survives the first month we can assume that the virus is extinct and expand the colony. If not we can sterilize the area and try again with a new batch of colonists.
The public story is that the virus is dead, but only the cleared area is safe from rats, wild dogs, and corpse related disease. And a civilian population will help keep up the existing buildings.
That's the setup. As with most diseases there's a small population that is immune to the disease, or at least a carrier. Predictably, there's going to be some people who decide to sneak past the guards and leave the quarantine area. They find a carrier. Things kinda go downhill from there. The screaming, the bleeding, the dying, and the firebombing. Whew. Great firebombing of London scene. The Nazi's were amatures.

It's not as good as the first movie. The first movie had a certain quality of people on a quest. It was kinda like a "Lord of the Rings" style march on Mordor or a Jewish ongoing march for a safe place to live once out of Egypt or out of Germany. Yeah, sure, flesh eaters, but also people and an exploration of what happened to England in the last 28 days. This has some good people story and some flight from London as well as dodging the US Army. But much of this movie was the large populace getting slaughtered that was skipped in the first movie.

I'm not really into slasher flicks. Jason and Freddy and Chucky were pathetic wannabes. But I have a soft spot for a good zombie flick. Even in video games zombies tend to freak me out in a way that a building full of demons just can't manage. The "28 Days/Weeks/Months Later" series and "Shawn of the Dead" were good because they have a good story as well as living dead.

If this is your kind of thing then this is the thing for you. If it's not your thing then it's not the thing for you. I will be getting it on DVD.

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