Selena: Have you got any plans, Jim? Do you want us to find a cure and save the world, or just fall in love and fuck? Plans are pointless. Staying alive is as good as it gets.
This movie is brilliant on so many levels that I don’t even know where to begin. Considered by some to be one of the greatest zombie movies ever, at the same time, disavowed by self-proclaimed zombiephiles, who say that it isn’t a true zombie movie. Either way, it’s a bloody good horror movie, that is definitely in the spirit of, if not the same vein as, the original George A. Romero Dead trilogy.
If anything, I think the fact that this film isn’t a traditional zombie movie is part of what makes it that much more frightening. Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland‘s dedication to the suspension of disbelief sets the stage for a much more plausible apocalyptic scenario than the dead rising from the grave. In a world of animal testing, fanatical activists, viral pandemics, and biochemical weapons, this movie seems like an unsettlingly prophetic preview of things to come.
When a group of animal activists break into a British research facility where chimps are used for medical research, they unwittingly unleash the appropriately named, blood-borne, “Rage” virus. Twenty-eight days later, Jim, a bicycle-courier who was hit by a car, wakes up in an abandoned hospital to find the whole of England has become a ghost town in the aftermath of the pandemic, save for the occasional mad-dashing, “Rage” infected, Brits, all of whom are dead-set on essentially eviscerating any uninfected folks they can find.
You don’t have to be bitten. You don’t die and rise from the grave. All you have to do is get infected, then you’re done for. The infected are fast, enraged, and extremely contagious. And there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. Scary. Adding to the terror, the film has an almost documentary feel, thanks to some stunning use of digital video.
This film introduced us to the talented Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Red Eye, Sunshine) as Jim the reluctant hero, and Naomie Harris (Pirate of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) as the tough-as-nails Selena. The cast also features the always wonderful Brendan Gleeson (Braveheart, Gangs of New York, Harry Potter, Lake Placid) and Christopher Eccleston (Shallow Grave, Elizabeth, Doctor Who).
So, call it a zombie movie; don’t call it a zombie movie. I don’t really care. If you haven’t seen this movie because you’re too busy debating whether or not zombies should run, then it’s your loss, because regardless of classification, it’s a great movie. Put aside your hard-and-fast rules about what is and what isn’t a zombie movie, and just go into it expecting a scary sci-fi horror inspired, in part, by the classic Romero zombie movies, as well as John Wyndham’s zombie-free novel The Day of the Triffids. (And by the way, zombies shouldn’t run, but rather than go into why, I’ll direct you to Simon Pegg‘s explanation here.)