The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Movie Break: 28 Weeks Later

I just took a time out from staring at my computer screen and went out to stare at a movie screen. Saw 28 Weeks later. I liked it better than the first film (which I thought was too derivative of Romero's Day of the Dead). 28 Weeks Later is set in a crumbling Iraq-style Green Zone--just outside London--and steeped in security-state paranoia. Like the zombies in the film who travel at a dead run, it doesn't waste any time in descending into a chaotic, viral nightmare.
The zombies are infected with a disease dubbed "the Rage virus" which turns the hosts into hyper-adrenalized, vectors who blast body fluids in every direction. Eventually all of mainland Britain is infected and the hosts die of starvation (and, presumably, exhaustion). The film has a number of excusable plot holes (How come one zombie can use a key card?) and I caught myself thinking, "Why would a virus evolve that would burn through all of its resources and kill its host so quickly?" But then I was like "Hey, look who's talking".
The thing I miss most in the new breed of hyper-active walking dead movies are the moments right after a likeable character has been bit. They know they're f**ked but they have a couple of days think about it as their limbs turn blue.
Zombie films usually have a strong anti-government, Libertarian streak. They offer a fantasy world where complete, selfish self-reliance is justified (Though I'm not a Libertarian, I am a curmudgeon, so I've seen every zombie film that has staggered onto video). 28 Weeks plays with this tendency, there are serious consequences for "going it alone" (yet another Iraq parallel) but I need to see it again (when I know where all the gotchas are coming) before I get a handle on its political discourse. I wish all political discourse was dramatized with walking corpses...oh yeah, it is.
I read something about ticks once that completely terrified me. They wait in trees--inert, hibernating--until something warm walks underneath; immediately they boot-up and drop into the warmth. I wanna see zombies like that.


Anonymous said...

William! This movie was way too fast to get to the crisis point, without developing any of the characters or bothering to set up the plot. It then bounced from event to event without any purpose. (Let's meet the helicopter at Regent's Park! Now let's go to the stadium!)

And the first movie also ripped off my beloved Triffids. Just want that on record.

William Smith said...

Agreed. It kept dragging the protags between locations for no specific reason. Then the ending was too sudden and cheaply nihilistic (Horror movies don't EARN their downbeat endings anymore).

Something I enjoyed though was the film's almost fairy-tale feel; a sinister, guilt-ridden father, relentlessly pursuing his special children, who are (temporarily) protected by a foster family. Reminded me of Night of the Hunter a bit. Wish they'd gone further with that.

Loved the napalm and the lock-in scenes too.

Funny I was thinking the first film ripped off Romero's Day of the Dead but you're probably right about Triffids (the only successful "Zombie" story in prose IMHO). Have you seen the BBC mini-series adaptation from 1981? Pretty solid I thought.