I was never a really big fan of “28 Days Later”. I mean, it was alright, but I didn’t think it was remotely worthy of the slobbering praise it received. So, naturally, I was hesitant going into its sequel, “28 Weeks Later”. Would it be more of the same? Thankfully, “28 Weeks Later” is an all-around improvement over the first installment, at least from my point of view, and definitely qualifies as a “good horror movie”.
Twenty eight weeks after the outbreak of the Rage Virus, all the infected within London have starved to death, the city has been de-quarantined and displaced families are gradually being moved back in to populate the empty streets. The United States military is overseeing the entire operation, with clean-up efforts still progressing in cordoned-off areas of the metropolis. However, an infected person has slipped through the cracks and begun spreading the terrible malignancy all across the city. To crush the virus before it can spread, the US military has enacted Code Red: exterminate everything within the city whether it is infected or not. Tammy (Imogen Poots) and Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) are the only children within the city, and they’re also the only chance there is of discovering a cure, as their unique genetic code leaves them immune to the Rage Virus. If humanity is to survive, the brother and sister must make it out of London alive. However, their biggest threat isn’t the hordes of flesh eating infected, but the trigger-happy soldiers out for blood.
A lot of people refer to these as “zombie flicks”, and while there are definite similarities, the “28 Whatever Later” franchise is most definitely not a zombie series. Still, the differences aren’t so big, and honestly, these films don’t try and present the Rage Virus as the true enemy, but the writers make it expressly clear they aren’t big fans of the military. In the previous installment, the heroes escaped the infected hordes only to fall into the clutches of a bunch of rape-crazy soldiers. This time around, the United States military are treated as the greater threat, carpet-bombing London, gassing the streets, sniping the survivors and wiping everyone down with blow-torches. The infected psychos don’t seem so scary after that.
Still, this film isn’t 100% “Blargh, soldiers are the true evil!” political commentary. There are at least three good ones who risk their lives to safeguard the two kids. So while the US military definitely comes off as the real villains, Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo doesn’t lay it on as thick as he could.
The scope of the movie is much grander than the original (you can thank the increased budget for that). Special effects show London getting razed to the ground and mustard gassed back to the Stone Age. But what’s that you say? “I came to see zombies/infected freaks, not soldiers.” Well, you still get plenty of em. Legions of them run through empty streets at all hours of the day while the sight of hundreds of infected marching over the horizon towards the main cast provides a great “Oh s***!” moment. And I can’t deny, the entire sequence with the helicopter (you’ll know it when you see it) was fantastic.
“28 Weeks Later” isn’t without its problems, though. If there’s one thing I will never forgive “the Blair Witch Project” for, it’s making the shaky-cam all sorts of trendy. Fresnadillo seems to have a serious mad-on for the shaky-cam, and uses it without restraint for just about every action sequence. This results in the maximum amount of confusion and disorientation the audience can handle without getting nauseous. The entire opening sequence relies on the shaky-cam far too much and what we get is an absolute disaster. You can’t tell who’s a bad guy, who’s a cast member, who’s a man, who’s a woman, who’s a table…nothing. You might as well be having a seizure; you’ll get the same effect.
The “28 *blank* Later” franchise still isn’t one of my favorites, but at least it now has an installment I could actually enjoy. The movie isn’t perfect or timeless but it does have some serious entertainment value. You should check it out, if not in the theater than at least on video.