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28 Weeks Later Movie Review

"Weeks" Isn't Worth the Wait

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

By

28 Weeks Later Movie Review

Robert Carlyle in 28 Weeks Later.

© Fox Atomic
The re-introduction of a killer virus? Check. Loads of guts and gore? Check. Innocents in peril? Check. Decent acting and effects? Check and check. All the ingredients are there but try as it might, 28 Weeks Later doesn’t live up to its predecessor. Heavy metal music and an apparently larger ‘blood’ budget than Danny Boyle had for 28 Days Later can’t disguise the fact 28 Weeks Later serves up its gross-out horror clothed in a moth-eaten plot.

The Story

Where the original film was more of an intimate look at one man’s struggle to come to grips with a brand new world, 28 Weeks Later’s story is dramatically different. This sequel takes place, obviously, 28 weeks after the rage virus was unleashed in Britain, but begins with a flashback to the days when those with the virus were terrorizing the country. Don (Robert Carlyle) and his wife have holed up in a farmhouse with a bunch of strangers attempting to wait out the horror. But alas, the best laid plans of mice and men can’t keep ravenous rage-filled zombies out of a boarded up farmhouse forever. As the zombies tear through the house searching for fresh flesh, Don abandons his wife to a horrible fate instead of staying to help fight the zombie horde.

Flash-forward 28 weeks and now Don is an important guy in helping to repopulate London. The US Army has moved in to patrol a quarantined ‘zombie-free/virus-free’ zone and displaced citizens are filing in by the trainload. Among those returning to try and re-establish their lives are Don’s two kids – Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) and Tammy (Imogen Poots). Don feeds them a story about their mom’s death, crying at appropriate moments and of course failing to mention how he ran away like a small child rather than protect their mother.

Meanwhile, with the help of the American military led by General Stone (Idris Elba), a semblance of normalcy returns to the city. But that doesn’t last for long because Don's two kids make their way out of the quarantined zone, setting off a chain of events that sets the virus free once again.

Rose Byrne and Jeremy Renner in 28 Weeks Later.

© Fox Atomic
The Bottom Line

Jeremy Renner’s a stand-out as a military sniper unwilling to obey the order to shoot every person in sight. The acting is solid throughout and the visual effects, including one spectacular scene involving a helicopter and hundreds of zombies, are about what you’d expect from a horror film operating without the benefit of a Spider-Man 3 budget.

Writer/director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Intacto) doesn’t spare the blood and body parts, and 28 Weeks Later earns its R rating for strong violence and gore. Fresnadillo flat-out goes for the horror, drenching every scene possible with as much blood as can be squeezed into the kill.

The decision to use hand-held cameras adds to the freneticism of scenes as the audience gets an up-close-and–personal vantage point on multiple zombie attacks. The disadvantage to the jiggly cam is that you can’t be totally sure what you’re seeing. That’s more than a little frustrating when you're trying to figure out who's attacking who.

The film begins strongly with the scene of a zombie attack on the farmhouse but quickly falls apart as enormous plot holes open up and destroy the goodwill built up by the film’s opening sequence. It’s impossible to believe two kids would not only escape from this heavily-guarded zone but would also be allowed to roam free long enough to do major damage. Argue all you want that this is what kids do in horror movies, that doesn’t make the silly set-ups any less annoying. Audiences are also asked to believe back doors aren’t guarded when the entire population’s in jeopardy of falling victim to the deadly virus. Shame, shame.

It's also necessary to point out that this follow-up to Danny Boyle’s popular zombie thriller wages war on the US military, with the film’s portrayal of the slaughter of thousands of British citizens (dead and undead) a pointed denouncement of America’s war in Iraq. There’s nothing new about the use of horror films as a form of social commentary, but the problem with 28 Weeks Later is that the plot surrounding said commentary is weak. If you’re going to get political, at least provide a solid storyline to cushion the agenda.

GRADE: C

28 Weeks Later was directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and is rated R for strong violence and gore, language and some sexuality/nudity.

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