Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments: #100 - 28 Days Later (2002)

By Eric Polk of The Audio Descent podcast-
Our journey into the 100 Scariest begins with a movie that ignited a debate among lovers of the zombie sub-genre. 28 Days Later is a nihilistic, dark, sparse kind of a horror film that reels you in with its depression. There is no humor ala original Dawn of the Dead or social commentary. Nope, this is about a matter of survival in jolly ol', Infected-plague England.

British animal liberation activists break into a laboratory and are caught by a scientist while trying to free some chimpanzees being used for medical research. Despite the scientist's warnings that the chimps are infected with a disease (which he calls "Rage"), the activists free a chimp, which immediately attacks and infects the group.

28 days later(great name for a movie, btw), a bicycle courier named Jim (Cillian Murphy) awakens from a coma in a deserted hospital. As he leaves, he discovers London deserted. Jim is soon discovered and chased through the streets by infected people before being rescued by two survivors, Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley), who rush him to their hideout. There they reveal that while Jim was comatose from his accident, a virus spread uncontrollably among the populace, turning most people into rabid, psychotic "Infected," resulting in societal collapse. Selena and Mark accompany Jim to his parents' house the next morning, where he discovers that they committed suicide, leaving a note for him. That night, two of the Infected attack the survivors in the house, and when the fight ends Selena kills Mark when she realizes he has been cut and likely infected; she explains that the infection is spread through the blood and overwhelms its victims in seconds. After leaving, they discover two more survivors, Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his teenage daughter, Hannah (Megan Burns), holed up in a block of flats, and are invited to spend the rest of the night.Frank informs them the next day that supplies, particularly water, are dwindling, and plays them a pre-recorded radio broadcast apparently transmitted by an Army blockade near Manchester, who claim to have "the answer to infection" and invites any survivor to try and reach their safe haven. The survivors board Frank's cab in search of the signal source and during the trip bond with one another in various situations. When the four reach the deserted blockade, Frank is infected when a drop of blood from a dead body falls into his eye. Before succumbing he is killed by the arriving soldiers, who then take the remaining group to a fortified mansion under the command of Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston). Jim quickly discovers that West's "answer to infection" involves waiting for the Infected to starve to death, and his broadcast of the radio message was launched to attract female survivors into sexual slavery to rebuild the population with his platoon's members. Jim attempts to escape with Selena and Hannah, but is captured by the soldiers, along with a Sergeant Farrell (Stuart McQuarrie), who disagrees with the major's plan. During their imprisonment, Farrell theorizes that there is no worldwide epidemic, but rather that Great Britain has been quarantined.

The next day, as two soldiers lead Jim and Farrell to be executed, Selena and Hannah are being prepared for rape. Jim manages to escape while his escorts quarrel after killing Farrell, and notices the contrail of a jet aircraft flying high overhead. After luring West and one of his men to the blockade, and ambushing them, Jim runs back to the soldiers' headquarters where he unleashes Mailer, an infected soldier that West kept chained outside for observation. Mailer attacks the soldiers in the mansion, while Jim sets out to rescue the girls, who had been split up in the chaos. Selena, held hostage by a surviving soldier, is then rescued by Jim, who arrives and savagely kills her captor. The two kiss, reunite with Hannah, and run to Frank's cab, only to encounter a vengeful West, who shoots Jim in the stomach. Hannah commandeers the cab and backs it up to the front door, where Mailer drags West out through the rear window and kills him. She then drives away with Jim and Selena.

28 Days Later did invoke an uproar among zombie purist, believing the human tartar snackers should be lumbering with a gang mentality. In my opinion, it is this thinking that watered down the genre for a number of years. This movie brought a fresh perspective to all things zombie. Oh sure, the darkness and bleakness is here, but what makes this film stand out from others is its depiction of honesty in the apocalypse. I don't know if this film should be on the list, but it does make its case for inclusion quite well.


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