BOO! Did I scare you? No? Did I startle you? Maybe a little? OK, but be ready because I might do it again any minute. Anyway, I want to tell you about this horror movie 28 Weeks Later. In the original film, Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later BOO!!! Did I get you that time? Did you jump? OK, but stay ready. I’m serious. In 28 Days Later, animal rights activists release some monkeys that have been infected with a mysterious virus that causes the victim to go into a violent, murderous rage. Faces are bitten, the virus spreads to the human population and before anyone can say “Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape” (28 days to be exact), England is wiped out save a small band of survivors. BOO!!!! I really got you that time, didn’t I? A little maybe? OK, stay on your toes, that’s all I’m saying.
The current movie opens during the time line of the first but with a different group of characters huddled in an isolated farmhouse somewhere. Naturally they are beset by zombies, but there are survivors. The movie then jumps forward to a point 28 weeks after the virus first struck, hence the title. The Unites States has moved in, the zombies have all died off from starvation and the process of repopulating London with the isolated survivors and returning evacuees has begun. This might sound like a bad idea to you and you’d be right. Now, I don’t think it would be a spoiler to tell you that eventually the shit hits the fan because otherwise there would be no movie. A movie about the repopulation of London where nothing else happens wouldn’t be very exciting, now would it? BOO!!!!! Admit it, that time I really got you huh? You were scared! No? Not at all? Well then you’re not likely to be scared by this movie either because, with a few exceptions, that’s about the extent of the thrills it has to offer.
And that’s the thing. A scary movie’s first priority should be to scare the audience. Everything flows from that. If the movie isn’t scary, then you’re in big trouble. 28 Weeks Later had a few zombie shocks and there was plenty of action, but somehow it all felt lacking in suspense. Most of the best parts were filmed with lots of close-ups and fast edits that made you claustrophobic, but wasn’t scary. A scene taking place in a darkened and deserted (?) Tube station had the most potential for scares, unfortunately it looked as if it was filmed with a colonoscope and I couldn’t tell exactly what was happening from one minute to the next. Maybe that was the intention, but it was annoying, not scary. The other scenes relied more on shocks than genuine suspense or scares. I jumped a couple of times, but so what? If someone came up behind me right now and grabbed my shoulder, I’d jump.
I’m not going to go into any details about the plot because whatever fun the movie has to offer comes from not exactly knowing what to expect next. The movie does do a nice enough job of keeping you off balance and I’ll even forgive some the things that seem ridiculous. For example, one zombie just keeps happening to pop up at the right time and the right place. It kind of defies logic.
The cast was good, but you don’t ever really care about any of the characters and that also goes a long way to dampening the potential thrills. If you don’t care whether a character gets their face chewed off by a zombie or not, where’s the real suspense?
The great thing about 28 Days Later was that it sort of reimagined the zombie movie and was scarier for it. Instead of the slow, lumbering undead from other films, these zombies were fast, clever and nasty. Except for one or two new wrinkles to the mythology, 28 Weeks Later doesn’t really add much. It’s just more of the same and you’re left wondering what the point except to set up another sequel. I won’t be seeing 28 Months Later.
BOO! did I get you that time? No? Damnit.
28 Weeks Later: UK 2007. Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. Written by Rowan Joffe and Jesus Olmo. Starring Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Jr., Catherine McCormack, Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton. 1 hour 39 minutes. MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and gore, language and some sexuality/nudity. 2 stars (ouf of 5)