28 Days Later (2002)
Directed by Danny Boyle
Written by Alex Garland

As much as I'd like to review this as though it were a sequel to the Sandra Bullock rehab comedy 28 Days, I'll resist the temptation and be slightly more straightforward, for once. 'Cause the movie is fucking great. Er, pretty much.

The first half of the film plays like an altie version of The Stand, wherein a viral outbreak has decimated humankind and there are few survivors. "The Infected" have contracted a virus that imbues them with pure rage, turning them into feral killing machines. Our hero Jim wakes up in a hospital bed 28 days after the outbreak, and wanders out into Parliament Square, which is completely empty. This sequence is completely fascinating, visually and philosophically—it evokes the whole "last man on earth idea" and presents some truly amazing shots of a London barren of any human activity.

The second half, while still good, treads much more familiar terrain, with echoes of Lord of the Flies, Battle Royale, Deliverance, and even First Blood. It's exciting, and in some parts damn frightening, but kind of overdone.

Atmospherically, the film most recalls Ringu or Blair Witch, with much more not shown than shown – and it's much scarier as such. Danny Boyle, director of Trainspotting, brings a grit to the subject matter that prevents it from being another Outbreak or The Day After. Actually, I have no idea what I mean by that comparison, but whatever.

There's a lot going on beneath the scarefest surface, raising lots of ideas about humanity, society, government, and the question of societal responsibility vs. self-interest. The whole thing comes across like a parable of the human struggle toward democracy, ultimately sending a deeply anti-conservative message. The protagonists battle against a self-proclaimed and self-protective group of white men who are literally responsible for the slavery and sexual subjugation, so their ultimate demise is a visceral release with a deeply-rooted liberalist stance.

The character of Jim, also, is allegorical in a way I haven't seen since O Lucky Man. His journey from (re)birth to interaction through connection, love, loss, and finally action reflects an ideal of human potential that might be taken as a wake-up call. I got the impression the film was vitriolically aimed at current world leadership and the apathy of the populace.

Or, it's just a good ol' fucking scary movie. It works on all these levels.

The American theatrical release contained an alternate ending after the credits (from the British DVD), which initially seems like an outtake but comes off as far superior. My only issues with the movie, other than some of the more tried-and-true plot elements, was the fucking crowd, which was infested with giggling potsmokers.

Review by Marco Hymnal