In 2002, renowned British filmmaker Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) collaborated with novelist Alex Garland (The Beach) on the harrowing 28 Days Later. The film turned out to be a huge box-office success, as well as one of the more contemporary zombie flicks since Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. A sequel of such a widely praised movie is bound to bring in an audience but is risky territory when it comes to honoring the unique originality of the first; especially since most of the “Part Twos” we see these days are seemingly made for all the wrong reasons.
R for strong violence, gore, language, sexuality
The brutal opening sequence of 28 Weeks Later, filled with jaw-dropping gore and shocks, is not just the best scene in the film, but will no doubt make Godfather of zombie horror George A. Romero proud. Six months later, those who were infected with the virus have supposedly died of starvation, and the empty streets of London begin to repopulate with survivors. We are briefly introduced to one of them, Don (Robert Carlyle), a father who’s out to find his son and daughter. But, as expected, things go back to hell for civilization and 28 minutes later, we’re stuck following his unlikable kids around the city while they are trailed by a pack of raging zombies.
Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (whose filmography includes Spanish drama Intacto and a handful of shorts) has his first stab at the horror genre, and his second stab at a feature production. I’m afraid his third career stab may be a fatal one. The inventiveness of using a digital camera to create a sense of realism and seclusion is nowhere to be found here. Instead, we have a mess of reused scare tactics mixed with relentless gore, all shot as if a dyslexic monkey were holding the camera. The script went through three revisions and four different writers, which may point to what’s missing here: heart. No, not in the gore sense, there is plenty of that, but substance, spirit and devotion to the project that 28 Days Later clearly had.
Boyle and Garland’s natural love for zombie films and research into social unrest created something new and thought-provoking. Although the idea of 28 Weeks Later wasn’t a bad one, there isn’t much brought to the table here. This interesting — sometimes frightening — genre film can provide an audience with some thrills, but ultimately fails to live up to its predecessor.