Horror Plus Thriller: 28 Days Later

Published 6 years ago by

28 days later horror plus thriller Horror Plus Thriller: 28 Days Later

Welcome to the third installment of Screen Rant’s Halloween lead-up series called “Horror Plus” – a feature which sets out to showcase one film that combines horror with another genre. It will basically serve as a review of the film at hand, explaining why it’s such a good example of genre merging.

In case you missed them, our first installment in the series was Horror Plus Comedy: Shaun of the Dead, and our second was Horror Plus Sci-fi: Alien. Be sure to keep and eye out for other installments such as “Horror Plus Action” and “Horror Plus Crime” in the coming weeks leading up to Halloween on October 31st.

Thriller is a difficult genre to choose from because of how broad it is and how many bases it covers. I guess the definition that pops into my mind when I think of a thriller is a film which keeps me on the edge of my seat throughout, keeps me wanting to see what happens next in an exciting and attention-grabbing way. And when I think of combining that with horror, the first film that popped into my head (for whatever reason) was Danny Boyle’s fantastic 28 Days Later.

(The following may contain moderate SPOILERS)

The film starts off with a group of animal rights activists who infiltrate a research center that is conducting experiments on monkeys. Against the pleads of the scientist in the lab, they let the monkeys loose, not knowing they are infected with a disease known as “RAGE.” We then cut to 28 days later, with Jim (Cillian Murphy) awaking in a hospital. Setting out from there, we see the streets totally deserted of people. Eventually Jim runs into a hoard of “the infected” and after a narrow escape from them with the help of some human survivors, Jim and others attempt to make there way to a military base where they believe help can be found.

One of the main things that makes 28 Days Later such an impressive film for me is the sense of urgency and genuine fear that Boyle as the director manages to achieve. He is able to get you interested right from the outset, with a twist on the zombie genre that will help solidify it as a film that will be looked back on with admiration for years to come. There’s quite a bit of gore to be found to go along with the thrills, particularly towards the end, so the squeamish beware. But even as a movie fan not that keen on gory films, I found those moments bearable within the brutal context of the film and the particular scene at hand.

Just as a quick note, I realize calling the “creatures” in the movie zombies isn’t technically correct but in my eyes that’s really splitting hairs. But I digress…

The scenes that depict the surviving, non-infected humans being chased by the infected I think are up there with the most intense scenes of the 21st century. One scene in particular stands out as not only a great example of that sort of thing, but probably the best, most effective scene of the entire movie: Jim and a few other survivors decide to take a tunnel to get to the main road instead of taking the longer route through the city streets. While driving under the tunnel, one of the car’s tires goes flat and they are forced to get out of the car and change the tire, knowing full well the darkness of the tunnel will soon mean infected will be upon them.

The way Boyle builds up tension is just brilliant. When we first hear rats scuffling before realizing they’re running from something, the infected. As hordes of these attackers get closer and closer, the survivors work as fast as they can to change the tire. Just as the first infected reaches the car, they manage to drive off “safely.” It’s a simple scene on paper but Boyle gets as much tension and excitement out of it as possible.

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  1. im thrilled that you wrote this article. 28 days later will always be on my list of top 5 favorite movies of all time. you hit all the key points in this article, right when you mentioned that there’s one scene that encompasses the fear of the entire movie, i imediately thought to myself “the tunnel scene”. so glad you also focused on that twist at the end where Jim goes on the rampage. you’re absolutely dead on when you say that it’s basically a whole new movie inside the last 40 minutes of the film. and of course, who can complain with the score? that theme song is SPECTACULAR, im so glad you mentioned it. great article. thanks for making me reminisce on one of my favorite movies.

  2. Usually whilst i’m still in the movie theater i would defend any movie that i’m watching because i paid for it but this is not one of them. I disliked both 28 days and weeks later… I wasn’t even remotely scared during this movie. I really wanted to like this movie because of the trailer but i just felt duped into some sort huge world wide scam( same goes for the village, both tomb raider movies, all three xmen movies, all three spiderman movies, etc.). Not really looking foward to the next horror plus threads after seeing the choice for this one. Sorry nothing against you Ross… I just don’t like this movie.

  3. After watching this movie, I questioned why I had spent last whatever hour and a half of my life watching. Definitely one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Not intense. Not scary. Especially cheesy in the middle of the movie where they go on the shopping spree….what was that all about. I was watching it with my dad, and we just looked at each other like “what the heck!”. I had heard such great things about the movie. How it was “revolutionary” and it’ll change horror and zombie genre. It did nothing like that for me. Just had me wondering why I even bothered to watch it.

  4. Good article Ross. Enjoyed it tremendously. I didn’t really care for either of the 28 Days films but you make very valid points on it.

  5. i enjoyed this movie.
    but in the end i just thought it was an unofficial Remake of Ramero’s “The Crazies”.
    just British and world wide.

  6. I couldn’t agree with you more Ross. These days (and especially leading up to this film), it’s hard to find a good thriller that really grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go. i think i was pretty much on the edge of my seat until the crew got to the military compound and then, as you stated, it turns into a different film. Or maybe it just shifts gears and lets you sit back for a bit until the chaos ensues once again.

    I think one of the other things i enjoyed about this film was that it had a low budget feel to me (even if that’s not true) which to me translates into something that makes the writers really put together something that’s not the typical hollywood teen-scream-fest which are all to common these days. Maybe it was just the lack of cast. the film did a good job of making you feel alone and cut off from the rest of the world.

    Agreed that the music played a major role in this. it would have been a different film without the score.

    I do have to disagree with you on 28 weeks though. I loved it just as much, if not more. while the scale was bigger and the action was more intense, it still pulled me in just as much as Days. it gave you a family to care about, which i was fully invested with. And it did a better job of making you feel claustrophobic (the room with all the people where the boy escapes through the duct work, getting the car started in the gas with the torch men coming, the underground in the dark and night vision). there was a real sense of urgency in it, just like the first one, but just at a larger scale.

    Not to mention, it was pretty cool watching them firebomb the entire city. neat effect.

  7. Good article and good choice!!

    I’ve told many that I believe this movie to be the best ‘Zombie’ film ever made. I think time will prove it to be a new standard for this genre.

    As far as becoming attached to the characters, I actually got broken up when the blood dropped in the Dad’s eye and he apologized to his daughter prior to changing as he knew he was done for.
    I can’t recall being affected emotionally by a zombie flick before.

    One of Danny Boyle’s best!!

  8. I own both 28 Days and Weeks. 28 Days is an incredible film, for my money. I definitely understand why some don’t like “Days.” To me, it made Zombies scary again. It also made was unique in that it gave you clear characters to root for. Usually in previous iterations of the subgenre, the surviving humans are all very different, and you care more about some than others. The cast for the first 2/3 of the movie are important characters that you want to survive. That is what makes the entrance of the soldiers to the plot so AWESOME. The people who are supposed to protect you are ALSO out to get you! It was brilliant.

    I have also talked to plenty of people that think “Weeks” was a better film than “Days.” It is certainly a more conventional zombie film. But, I have to disagree that it is better. Aside from the opening scene of “Weeks” which is truly horrifying and every bit as good as the best scenes from “Days”, I find it to be inferior in almost every way. A lot of people like the more polished, larger scale sequel, but to me, that is exactly what made it not as good. Nothing felt as desperate. It all felt contrived and forced.

  9. I have never seen “Days” but I have seen “Weeks.” Actually though it was pretty good. I liked the cast in “Weeks” as well. I may have to go check this one out.

  10. 2 of my top favorite movies of all time. 28 Days later is probably in my top 5 favorite movies of all time list. I dident really look at the 28 movies as zombie movies (Maybe thats why I enjoyed it so much more) I loved the premise that zombies could technically be created through a virus I love movies that put a real spin on the supernatural. And I found it fascinating that these people were constantly on the run.

    I believe 28 Days later will go onto be a classic much like the birds or George Romeros Dawn of the dead. In a way it really felt like a bridge or an evolution of the zombie Genre…look at all the movies to come out after 28 Days later…all the friggin zombies are running. Dawn of the dead remake, zombie land etc. So in a way Danny boyle really did a service for the Genre and made it fresh again.

  11. [May contain spoilers]
    This is one of my all time favorite horror films because of not only the direction the film takes, and the amazing characterization done in a very short amount of time, but also how the last 40 minutes of the film are such a direct 180 from the “Infected” part of the story.

    It really shows how they aren’t the only evil the main antagonist(s) has to deal with. A true human nature if you will!

  12. I first saw this movie while I was sleeping over my best friends house.His brother,parents and I were all watching it.I can;t really remember what happened cause it was like 6 years ago since I watched it.