STARRING: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Christopher Eccleston, Megan Burns

2002, 113 Minutes, Directed by: Danny Boyle

A patient wakes up in a London hospital after a brief coma following a fall on his bicycle (he is a courier). The hospital is deserted, there is no-one to be found anywhere. Outside, the usually bustling streets of the city are deserted – not a soul to be found.

For a while the man could be mistaken for believing that old humbug which Christian fundamentalists tell their children about missing out on the Second Coming of Christ, that everybody – friends, family, etc. - will be taken away except the sinners (and kids who have been naughty of course). It would appear that he is indeed The Last man on Earth . . .

He isn’t alone however. London has been evacuated following an outbreak of a new virus which turns its victims into mindless zombies, possessed only of an insane rage and desire to maim and kill. There are others who have not been infected though, and the man teams up with them as they go off in search off of other survivors . . .

28 Days Later starts off as Twelve Monkeys, then strays into Day of the Triffids territory before settling for a The Omega Man and other post-apocalyptic movie scenarios. None of this unoriginality really matters though because it has been a while since we have seen this sort of thing – and let’s face up to it – we have all fantasized at some point about what it would be like to be the only person left on earth one day . . . (What would you do?)

The movie is directed by Danny Boyle of Trainspotting fame. This isn’t as good as that seminal 1990s flick though, but it does share the same pessimistic view of human nature Boyle displayed in his seldom seen and underrated Shallow Grave debut film. But Boyle does know his stuff – there is real tension to some scenes. The “infected” are not your father’s zombies though (technically they are not zombies at all) – instead of inanely shuffling along they are dart around agilely. Hey, after all, who takes old-fashioned zombies seriously in any case? They shuffle along so slowly that even cripples would outrun them easily . . . Not these creatures – they are effectively scary.

Atmospheric shots of a deserted London are also quite well done. 28 Days Later is quite good at establishing a sense of dread and foreboding. SPOILER ALERT! Where the movie doesn’t succeed though is in its implausible action movie finale. Also, the happy ending seems forced and tacked on, out of step with the rest of the movie. But I suppose all that gloom would have been really suffocating. END SPOILER!

Ultimately though, 28 Days Later makes effective use of the material at hand, and while it won’t be anything new to sci-fi fans, it is recommended.



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