28 WEEKS LATER (2007)
Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Starring Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne and Jeremy Renner
Easily the best film of 2007, "28 Weeks Later" also happens to be the best horror film of the past 10 years. No joke. We're talking revelatory, amazing, mind-blowing excellence.
In a year when it seemed like no horror film came close to being as good even as a "Masters of Horror" episode, along comes one to remind us just how outstanding films in this genre can be when the stars aligned right.
Not only does "28 Weeks Later" surpass the original, but it dashes past the "Dawn of the Dead" remake, "Land of the Dead", and "Freddy vs. Jason", but it also surpasses the best sci-fi and genre movies of the past 10 years as well. In short, "28 Weeks Later" is a masterpiece. I'm not kidding.
I haven't had the pleasure of seeing director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's other full-length film, 2001's "Intacto," but if it's as close to as good as "28 Weeks Later," it's definitely also one of the best films of the past seven years.
Fresnadillo started off with the difficult task of making a sequel to the beloved British horror film that resurrected the zombie genre. His movie opens up with a husband-and-wife in darkness and in hiding from the cannibal "Rage virus," which has taken over England (as in the events of the first movie). The husband is played by Robert Carlyle of "Full Monty" fame.
After a heart-wrenching and absolutely horrifying chase scene, the film cuts "28 Weeks Later," when the infected rabid red-eyed cannibals created by the virus have all apparently passed away, and friendly American troops have control of London. More than 10,000 former residents are shipped back to repopulate the abandoned city and country, and Carlyle is reunited with his two children, who were at camp at the time of the original infection. He explains to them, in an amazing heartfelt moment, his misleading account of how his wife and their mother died.
It's crucial not to give too much else away, but needless to say the Rage virus rears it's ugly head again, delivering one of the most thrilling apocalyptic horror films of all time. "28 Weeks Later" is so much better than the original that you literally don't need to see that movie – and watching it after this could almost feel like a letdown.
There are so many great things in "28 Weeks Later," it's hard to know where to begin when raving about it. The film simply takes some of the best horror and sci-fi elements from masterpieces like "Dawn of the Dead," "Night of the Living Dead," "Day of the Triffids," "Rabid" and even "Horror Express," and revs them up with the best technology the film industry has to offer. It has a nice, big budget, and it shows in all the right places.
The highlight of the film, however, is during the last act, when the U.S. military clearly loses control of things and resentment of the USA, stemming from the atrocities we've been committing in Iraq the last several years, seeps through the movie. Not to spoil too much, but the characters of the film end up fearing the U.S. military as much as they fear the Rage virus, not unlike the situation many Iraqis have been experiencing since George W. Bush's war there started – being killed off by Americans and suicide bombers. The horror of "28 Weeks Later" is actually quite real for a nation run by friendly, smiling occupiers – and it's happening now.
The big gore effect that fans will rave about for years to come involves helicopter blades. It's sleazy enough to remind us that, for all it's excellence, "28 Weeks Later" is still just a horror movie.
In short, Fresnadillo's film is an undeniable triumph and one that horror fans will love for decades to come.