Modern Mondays: 28 Days Later (2002)

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I make no apology for my sincere admiration of British director Danny Boyle. Since I first sat through a late night showing of Shallow Grave back in 1994 I’ve been impressed with his frenetic and edgy directing style as well as his ability to get incredibly nuanced performances from his actors. I believe Boyle is one of our most interesting modern directors and 28 Days Later is one of his greatest achievements.

28 Days Later tells the story of young Jim (Cillian Murphy) who awakens from a long coma in an empty London hospital surrounded by a seemingly deserted city. While Jim was sleeping a powerful virus swept through the country turning its victims into murderous monsters that resemble zombies. Throughout the course of the film Jim becomes a reluctant hero who helps other survivors try to stay alive in a situation that becomes more desperate and bleak by the hour.

The film was impressively shot by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle using digital film for most of its running time. Instead of it being a distraction, the use of digital film in 28 Days Later actually adds to the grungy feel of the urban landscape and gives the city of London an extremely menacing look. Writer Alex Garland wrote the script, which makes many references to other movies such as The Last Man On Earth (1964), The Day of the Triffids (1962), Omega Man (1971), A Clockwork Orange (1971) and George Romero’s Dead Trilogy. But in a decade that was littered with tired ‘reimaginings’ and lackluster remakes Danny Boyle was able to revitalize familiar themes and turn 28 Days Later into one of the decades most frightening, creative, entertaining and thought-provoking horror films. 28 Days Later managed to make zombies interesting again and it also made Cillian Murphy an internationally renowned star who has developed into one of our best working actors.


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28 Days Later is available on DVD and it can currently be purchased for just $7.99 at Amazon. You can also find it for rent at Netflix.com and Greencine.com

Modern Mondays is an ongoing project here at Cinebeats where I share a few thoughts or lengthy rants and raves about my favorite films produced during the last decade. Films previously mentioned on Modern Mondays include:

The Left Bank (2008)
Love Songs (2007)
Bright Future (2003)
Control (2007)
The Quiet American (2001)
A History of Violence (2005)
This Is England (2007)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Innocence (2004)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Cloverfield (2008)
Last Life in the Universe (2003)
Before the Fall (2008)
Calvaire (2004)

12 thoughts on “Modern Mondays: 28 Days Later (2002)

  1. Richard Harland Smith says:

    As best as I can figure it, 28 Days Later was shooting in London around the time I was there in the Fall of 2003 but I never saw the bastards. Wish I had, as the movie is a favorite of mine. I liked the sequel, too. I’m hit and miss on Danny Boyle, with Shallow Grave and 28 Days Later, as well as several episodes of Cracker being in my Yay pile and A Life Less Ordinary in my Nay pile and stuff like The Beach and Sunshine being somewhere in the middle.

  2. AR says:

    You’ll find no argument from me on this one. IMO one of the best horror movies of the last 10 years. Though I fear it may have unwittingly jumpstarted the zombie craze (which we hope ends soon), there’s no doubt that it will remain a horror classic.

  3. Kimberly Lindbergs says:

    Richard – 28 Days Later was released in 2002 so you must have been there in 2001? That would make more sense or maybe you were thinking of 28 Weeks Later?

    Like every director I admire, Boyle’s made some films I don’t care for such as A Life Less Ordinary (but I suspect Diaz is the real reason the movie doesn’t work for me). But his successes overshadow his failures in my opinion. Shallow Grave, Trainspotting and 28 Days later are some of my favorite films of the last 20 years and I also really liked Sunshine, which I need to see again. I like his other films less but even the ones I don’t care for all that much have qualities I can appreciate.

    AR – I think 28 Days Later is going to be looked at as a modern classic as well. It really was unlike anything being released in the early part of the decade and for better or worse, it definitely redefined zombie movies!

  4. Steve Langton says:

    DB turned up at the London Fright Fest with the first 2 reels of 28 Days Later and the 25 minutes of footage we saw really whetted our appetites for the finished product. Glad to say, this film did not disappoint. I’m another one who is hot and cold where Boyle’s films are concerned but this one works beautifully on many levels.

  5. Kimberly Lindbergs says:

    Richard – I thought so! I was in the UK in 2000 so we missed each other by a year. I REALLY want to go back. Trying to convince my man that we need to spend xmas there but he’s not buying what I’m selling him.

    Steve – The London Fright Fest sounds like fun. When I think about horror films the first two countries that come to mind are the UK and Italy. They’re like the holy lands for horror nuts. I’m glad directors like Boyle are keeping UK horror films interesting.

  6. Kith Tsune says:

    I like the scene where Jim is all covered in blood after his rampage and Selena thinks he is a zombie, for just a moment his identity as predator / prey is blurred.

    Naomie Harris is also great in this. You don’t see black women in this kind of role / movie too often !

  7. Kith Tsune says:

    Well, she was Tia Dalma, the voodoo priestess, in Pirates of the Caribbean… That’s the only movie I saw her in, apart from Tristram and 28 Days Later. A much less original part than the one in 28 Days.

    She doesn’t seem to have capitalized on her experience in 28 Days Later, but I guess the demand for women in action oriented movies is not that great !

  8. PMMF Custodian says:

    Boyle is one of the best. Ever since I first saw Trainspotting, I have not failed to miss one of his films. With that said, am I alone in thinking that Slumdog Millionaire was overrated?

    City of God, as the “foreign slum” genre goes, was much better IMHO, and ultimately Slumdog Millionaire failed to suspend my disbelief.

  9. Kimberly Lindbergs says:

    PMMF – Slumdog isn’t one of my favorite Boyle films at the moment (I’ve only seen it once and I need to see it again) but I liked it Is it overrated? I suppose that depends on what you’re comparing it to.

    Personally I wouldn’t compare it to City of God. Slumdog was made as a Bollywood tribute and it’s a fable. In that regard I think it holds up really well. City of God is a very different kind of film that just happens to deal with “foreign slums” too.

    One of the big problems I had with critics of Slumdog was their lack of understanding and often complete ignorance of Bollywood movies which have often follow a formula very similar to Slumdog. Viewed under that light, I think Slumdog holds up very well.

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