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September 28th, 2003

28 Days Later.

imagine: one day you're in a car accident, and the last thing you remember is flying forward, then maybe some snap shots of the hospital, and finally, you wake up, and everyone is gone. streets are silent. soft drink and candy machines have been ripped open, telephones are dead, and there is a wall in the middle of your city where people have posted pictures of their lost loved ones, who have been mysteriously killed by a strange virus.

thus opens 28 days later, the new film by trainspotting director danny boyle, with a script by alex garland.

the premise isn't exactly original, but at the moment of typing this, i can't remember where it first appeared. but as they say, if the premise is done well, then it doesn't matter if it's an old one, and 28 days later is done very well. the opening scenes where jim walks through london, with the empty streets dotted with abandoned cars and shopping trolleys is superbly handled, with the eerie sense of loss and danger rising through the fine use of godspeed you black emperor's 'east hastings' piece.

quickly, jim, the central character, discovers the infected people (zombies, really), and then is rescued by two other uninfected people. the characterisation of these people is really nothing special--and in fact, you never really get a handle on jim outside being someone who reacts to the situations he is in. the other characters fall into the traditional cliche of horror: the tough chick, the loving, surly father, the innocent daughter, the mad soldier, and so on and so forth. but to be honest, they're not what the film is about: rather it is about the journey the characters and director take us along, out of london and to manchester, and in the search of salvation.

it's done in a dark, stylish manner. the pacing of the film from garland's script is brisk, and you don't realise that he hasn't done much with the characters, but yet for some strange reason, you want them to succeed, so in that way he, with boyle, drag you into the film. the scenes where the zombies arrive are done with a flare for menace, especially in an early scene where they're running while covered in flames, and another when they're in a tunnel. you can be guaranteed, when you sit down in the theatre, to be involved in the film, and only be aware of its weakness at the end, which if the film is flawed, is the way you want it to be.

a word of advice to anyone who goes: there are two endings. it appears, without doing any research into this, and with just a healthy dose of cynicism, that the ending on the film is the studio ending, while the second one is that which boyle and garland wanted. the second ending is better, so you're well advised to stick around for the end.

at any rate, the film is good, well worth seeing if it has caught your fancy.