What 28 Days Later offers on top of the horror and thriller combination (and this is one of the other things that I think will make it stand up in years to come) is the dramatic resonance. We actually come to care about what happens to these survivors, who include Jim, Selena (Naomie Harris), Hannah (Megan Burns) and Frank (Brendan Gleeson). It’s not often you get to say that about this type of film, where usually you not only expect most of the main characters to get killed by film’s end but you don’t really care whether they do or not (cheap teen slashers, I’m lookin’ at you…). But the film manages to find the time for great characterization even amongst the intense scenes of running and generally surviving.
I’ve read a lot of people split on opinion when the film gets to about two thirds of the way through, when the survivors meet up with the military team they’ve been searching for. Much like most of Boyle’s films, it becomes almost like a completely different movie at a certain point, changing from a lone group of survivors in city streets deserted, to a more “full-on” survival film with an injection of action and sometimes crazed strangeness (a strong example of the latter involves some very gory and brutal attack scenes towards the end). I personally love that the film gives you a totally different feel in the last 30-40 minutes, as it brings something different to the table than a lot of other films of its type(s).
Before I finish, one very prominent feature of the film is the score by John Murphy. It helps to build that sense of dread and urgency that Boyle achieves, mixing that with a sort of “end of the world, no hope” feel (this is also achieved with the gritty cinematography by Oscar winner Anthony Dod Mantle). If you haven’t heard it or just can’t remember the exactly the music, you’ll recognize one piece from a million movie trailers since this film’s release in 2002. Here’s the theme if you’re interested.
Overall, I think 28 Days Later is a standout piece of modern horror/thriller cinema that mixes a whole load of elements into one exciting, interesting, hyper-intense film with a resonance that will help it work just as much in 30 or 40 years from now as it does today. It leaves things satisfyingly ambiguous at the end, but at the same time not needing a sequel. Of course, they did make a sequel called 28 Weeks Later (with none of the original cast), which is more of an action flick than the first one was, and in my opinion not as good (certainly not on repeat viewings).
Well, that concludes the third installment of Screen Rant’s on-going “Horror Plus” series. I’ve told you what I think, now it’s YOUR turn: What do you think of 28 Days Later? Did you find it as effective as I did? Any particular favorite moments that you’d like to share? Leave your thoughts and opinions below.
As stated, be sure to keep an eye out for more installments of the “Horror Plus” feature before Halloween, October 31st!