28 Weeks Later

un film de Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

Many have queried "Why even make 28 Weeks Later?", comparing it to the original 28 Days Later, these naysayers have called the film exploitive and pandering. Well, duh?! What else is a good flesh-eating zombie flick other than exploitive and pandering? Hell, the very genre itself could be parenthetically subtitle (Exploitive & Pandering). So I don't know what they are talking about with their criticisms, because exploitive and pander, well that's what it's all about kiddies.

Taking up the story line of the first film, where, while attempting to liberate a lab full of test monkeys from man's oppression, a group of animal rights activists unwittingly unleash the experimental Rage virus upon the island of Great Britain and 28 days later, a coma patient awakes in an abandoned hospital ward only to find himself running from gangs of flesh-devouring monstrosities who are really really really fucking hungry, 28 Weeks Later, opening upon the allotted time frame, gives us a newly virus free London being reinhabited by those lucky (or unlucky) enough to have survived the last 7 months or so.

Meanwhile, taking over for the hyper-kinetic Danny Boyle in this hyper-kinetic sequel to the hyperkinetic original is the equally hyper-kinetic Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (best known for the cerebral yet quite hyper-kinetic itself mindfuck Intacto) and exploitive pandering withstanding, he makes a film nearly as strong-willed and terrifying as the first. Remember, this ain't your mama's flesh-eating living dead movie. This isn't the lumbering drama of George Romero's grandaddy flesh-eaters wherein the back-against-the-wall tension comes not so much from full on onslaught as from what-will-happen-next nail-biting. 28 Weeks Later (as was its predecessor, as well as Zack Snyder's own remake of Romero's Dawn of the Dead) is a new kind of zombie movie. A post 9/11, ADHD-addled, Rage-riddled full out batshitcrazy nightmare of a motion picture. In this new incarnation of the living dead (okay, not exactly living dead so much as virus-infected humans, but they still do love to eat other people), you can no longer outrun the "dead" like in the "old days" of Romero's classics, and I don't know about you, but the scares the bejesus out of me.

Full of allusions to Iraq with its constant military patrols and segmentation into the safe "green zone" and the dangerous "red zone", 28 Weeks Later, as is the case with Romero's originals, shows not only its bloody flesh-filled teeth but its socio-political fangs as well. Opening with one of the most heartbreakingly I-can't-believe-it shocks in recent memory, Fresnadillo's film, as frenetic and zeitgeististic as it is, is still a loving testament to the ideas of family and survival and all that comes inbetween that Romero first set forth in 1968 with his original Night of the Living Dead. In fact Robert Carlyle's cowardly husband and father is the cinematic offspring of the little girl eating her own parents in the basement of Romero's classic. Perhaps not as intense as the original (I suppose there is some validity in critics' questions, but instead of "why?" they should be asking "why not something a bit different?") 28 Weeks Later still wallops quite a brutal punch, from its blitzkrieg beginning to its somewhat too obvious finale (which even more obviously sets the stage for the inevitable 28 Months Later) and in doing so, earns a spot in zombie movie lore - no matter how many genre-purists scoff at the idea of "fast zombies". I suppose, being what may, 28 Weeks Later is just what its critics say it is, exploitive and pandering - and one Hell of a job of it too. [05/13/07]