Brains? Sorry, we’re fresh out of those

By Jeff Kubik

“Boy Jane, it sure is a nice night to be making out in these dark, foreboding woods.”

"I don’t know Johnny, it just doesn’t feel right. What if something happens?"

"Oh, don’t worry. There’s nothing to be…" *zombie bursts out of the ground, screaming at the couple while its various limbs fall off* "…can we help you?"

Let’s face it, it’s getting pretty hard to be scared by zombie horror films anymore.

Zombies are too stupid to open a door without breaking it in and they move with all the speed of a crippled tree sloth–they’re the D students of the horror world. So, is there any hope for the genre? 28 Days Later…

Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up in a hospital bed with a month’s worth of stubble and no underwear. The hospital is completely empty, except for a few strategically placed Pepsi cans reassuring the audience that, even if every doctor and orderly is dead, product placement is still alive and kicking.

As he explores the deserted streets outside, he finds the city as empty as the hospital, save for a few red-eyed "infected" with serious rage problems. A volley of Molotov cocktails from a pair of survivors saves bewildered Jim and the running commences.

Shot in digital format, director Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later has a gritty, frantic feel that functions very effectively in bringing the audience into the horror of surviving zombie-ridden England. It’s like watching someone’s home movie gone horribly wrong.

At its core, this film may be a traditional zombie movie but at least it’s "infected"–those afflicted by the genetically engineered super virus–are fast killing machines, rather than stumbling corpses. Equally refreshing, in the characters of the remaining British military the screenplay offers social commentary on humanity’s potential for barbarity–infected or not.

However, though more intelligent than the average undead flick, the film is still vulnerable to typical zombie scenarios that will leave the audience screaming at the screen.

"If you’re worried about infection, why are you hacking people to bits with a machete?"

"Don’t go in there, it’s a deserted gas station full of bodies, no good can come of this!"

But I digress.

28 Days Later represents a new take on an old formula, using a gritty format combined with villains that can’t simply be outrun. While the film is certainly conscious of its predecessors, it’s much more than a resurrected corpse. Perhaps there’s hope for zombies yet, poor bastards.

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