Tuesday, May 15, 2007

28 Weeks Later (Movie Review)

I don't like horror flicks.

Never have, probably never will. I do, however, enjoy the occasional psychological thriller. And it was only because I was told 28 Days Later (2002) was not like other horror films that I ever conceded to watch it.

I was pleasantly surprised — well, as "pleasant" as one can be when watching "rage-infected" humans turn to their loved ones with blood-lust in their eyes and a zombie-esque spring in their step.

But the fact remains that the plot was rife with psychological elements that were just subtle enough to not be overdone, and yet, still, just intense enough to give the film meaning that surpassed your typical blood-and-guts slasher.

Add to that director Danny Boyle used hyperediting to pixelate and mute the gore, and the first film in this series was not only approachable for me, but also a rare gem in its genre.

I was not quite as impressed by the 2007 sequel, 28 Weeks Later. That's not to say I didn't find it to be as suspenseful or as psychologically wrenching as the first — I did — but that it picked up a few shortcomings that detracted from the film's overall quality.

A large part of this hinges on the literal change of direction, with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo taking the reins from Boyle (not to mention, neither the writers nor the actors returned from the original).

It was quickly apparent that Fresnadillo had an overt political objective with the film, as the Americans were initially welcomed with open arms upon entering Britain to begin reconstruction (six months after the "rage" virus virtually erased the country's population). But then, what do you know but the Americans completely mismanage the situation, allowing that proverbial "hell" to break loose on the mean streets of London.

I could have allowed for this parallel, had it not been so nauseatingly apparent. And I certainly could've bought the mismanagement aspect, had it not looked like Fresnadillo consulted with Barney Fife to create the lock down facilities in which the healthy British were contained during a security breech.

I mean, I can suspend my disbelief in regards to the "rage" virus and its sundry outbreaks. But I had a hard time believing we'd usher a couple thousand Brits into a room the size of my elementary school gymnasium and not even think to add a few armored guards to the doors (which, as luck would have it, are exceedingly easy to break into).

But that's just one of many devices that served only to further the plot (sure, every movie needs these... but do they have to be so obvious?). I'll limit my discussion of other similar devices to spare those who haven't seen the film except to say: the young girl's character is inconsistent; why wasn't someone guarding the carrier; and why on earth did Robert Carlyle's character have security access to every locked door?

If you think any film will have the occasional tear in its seam, you should know 28 Days Later didn't warrant the same skepticism. Add to that Fresnadillo didn't use hyperediting as actively as did his predecessor — and so drew out some rather horrific scenes in the most graphic possible fashion — and it follows that there were some scenes in 28 Weeks Later that I certainly could've done without.

[Though the boys in the back who were probably underage got a real kick out of it.]

That said, 28 Weeks Later isn't without a similar (albeit diminished) level of emotional suspense that made 28 Days Later so memorable. It even posits its characters in some difficult situations, forcing them to make some split-second decisions that would've made for terrific discussions in my college Ethics class.



disgruntled world citizen said...

I saw Fracture yesterday afternoon. It was fun. Had a nice little twist at the end that made it all worthwhile.

Stacy said...

I think I'll skip this one, thanks for the warning.

Lee said...

Still not watching it. I am a total whiny-tittie-baby.

James Burnett said...

In spite of the C+ you make me want to see it. I enjoyed - is that the right word? - 28 Days Later.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

DWC - I don't know that I'll see that one. Unless someone else Netflixes it, that is.

Stacy - If you see one and not the other, see the first one. But if you see neither... I don't blame you. This is a genre I normally avoid altogether.

Lee - Sounds like you and Stacy are in the same boat — which I understand COMPLETELY.

James - I almost gave it a B-, if that helps. This one is still better than your average horror flick. I just wish it wasn't so overdone in its sentiment.

Winter said...

I saw this movie Saturday, and I laughed very hard.

But I did enjoy it.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Winter - That's generally how I am when I watch horror flicks. I'm either disgusted by the gore, or I can't stop laughing (Ever seen Leprechaun — don't know if it was meant to be hysterical, but it certainly made me laugh uncontrollably). In any event, I usually feel like someone owes ME money after I watch anything from that genre.

The 28 Days series -- including this one -- being a rare exception.