Not Coming to a Theater Near You‘s “31 Days of Horror: VIII” is in full swing and I contributed a piece on Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s superb 28 Weeks Later.
The personal hell of 28 Days Later remains a familiar memory, but this brilliantly conceived sequel moves on to a more expansive, collective vision of the modern day apocalypse. Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo opens his follow up with a devastating prologue, brutal in visual perspective and crucial to every-man hero Don’s (Robert Carlyle) character development (I’m not going into specifics because not knowing will make the experience that much better). From here, the story shifts to 28 weeks after the initial outbreak of the Rage Virus, which ravished Danny Boyle’s London in the first film. An American led NATO force has secured a small section of the city, enabling people to return to some semblance of civilized society. Don’s children, young Andy and teenage Tammy, arrive home after being spared the initial plague (“good thing we sent them to summer camp honey”). The return home is bitter sweet, since the children want to know about the vague fate of their mother, a painful memory for Don to revisit. Then the shit hits the fan. I’m not talking wishy washy Hollywood chaos either. When the Rage returns, Fresnadillo begins an all out assault on his characters, environment, and emotions. His camera often hinges on the overly frantic, the hand held motion capturing more than enough agony and destruction to hit the point home. First regret, guilt, possible redemption, and then all out horror stampede 28 Weeks Later…, mixing moments of pure horror with epic action sequences, each sharing the same immediate impact. It’s a devastating film, one which relentlessly parallels the failures of a reconstruction process (hint hint) with the war on terror imagery we’ve grown to perfectly understand and fear. The most amazing thing about Fresnadillo’s vision has to be the fact it was made at all. The images represented, like the failures of a national coalition force, or the consistent destruction of black and white morality in favor of shades of grey, make for an anomaly in Hollywood filmmaking – a film concerned equally with stunning entertainment and valid political subtext. See this film on the big screen because it’s sound design, visual scheme, and horrific conclusion won’t be half as good on a television. 28 Weeks Later… begins the summer movie season with a startling sense of immediacy, an extension of prior nightmare scenario’s outlining a brutal but not so distant future. The familiar Rage spreads far too quickly not to spawn another, even grander sequel.