Horror Plus Thriller: 28 Days Later

Published 6 years ago by
28 days later underground attack Horror Plus Thriller: 28 Days Later

A narrow escape...

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).

28 days later army Horror Plus Thriller: 28 Days Later

Jim (Cillian Murphy) and Selena (Naomie Harris) meet up with the military

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!

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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. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. [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!