Thursday, October 22, 2009

28 Days Later

After some animal activist assholes release infected monkeys from a testing lab, the fearsome Rage Virus decimates England. The virus is essentially a fast acting zombie plague; within moments of exposure, the victim is turned into a mindless, bloodthirsty automaton that kills everything in sight. A scrappy group of survivors try to make their way out of London and into the countryside in search of a mysterious rescue beacon.

28 Days Later is one of my favorite horror movies of this past decade, and what I like about it (and what I suspect many genre fans don't like) is that it is uniquely sentimental and humanist for a zombie apocalypse film. Most zombie films are about defeat, about the loss of hope, about how mankind has to sacrifice its own humanity in order to survive. Even if the ending leaves room for some hope, like Dawn of the Dead, it is only a faint glimmer, somewhat ambiguous. It's such a prevalent attitude in the subgenre that even this one's sequel, 28 Weeks Later, takes the defeatist route.

Not this one. 28 Days Later is about how we need other people to survive. The heroes in this film live because they care about each other, because they form a family unit, because they protect each other. The film is a rare exception amongst horror movies in its willingness to take time out to share sweet, intimate, touching moments with its characters.

The end result is that, unlike so many other horror movies (including a lot of good ones), I actually care about the characters in 28 Days Later. It's not just scary when one of them dies, it's upsetting emotionally.

My boy Patrick has a theory that a good horror movie should leave you feeling like shit, scared and depressed, otherwise it wasn't doing its job. I think it's a fair point for a certain type of horror movie, but 28 Days Later earns its happy, cathartic ending. I wouldn't want it to end any other way.


Patrick said...

I'll give this a pass both because the happy ending comes immediately after some horrible shit and because in this and "Millions" Boyle does the happy ending genuinely. Really glad the sequel didn't kill off these characters.
Also, lets have some more horror poetry, please?

Dan said...

28 Weeks Later is interesting in that it has almost the exact opposite message of the original, not something you usually see in sequels. In the end, the world is actually destroyed because of the characters' love, compassion and human decency. If everyone hadn't fought so hard to save those kids, the virus wouldn't spread. It's kinda fucked up. In a good way.

Shenan said...

i'm workin' on it! between having to write and revise poems for my education, and work, and have a life and sleep, it leaves me a little busy, but a tourist trap poem will hopefully come to fruition soon