THE praise heaped upon 28 Days Later is more appropriate for Danny Boyle actually having invented cinema, not giving zombie films a makeover. Here’s why it’s somewhat overrated.
‘Ah, but what about the innovative running zombies?’ you say, if you’re as tragically obsessed with a medium-budget 2002 horror movie as this article is. They actually first appeared in 1980’s Nightmare City or possibly 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. It’s disputed, but the main problem is that it takes away their scary ‘zombieness’ and turns them into just ‘well-motivated cannibals’.
The laboratory chimps are infected with ‘rage’
It’d be interesting to see the research grant application. ‘Eradicate the normal human emotion of anger by turning monkeys into psychotic killers with a highly contagious virus’? Danny Boyle may have reinvigorated the genre, but in mad scientist terms it’s as cliched as ‘Success! I have transplanted a murderer’s hand onto an accident victim! No harm can come of this!’
Stupidity + zombies = poor outcomes
In their wisdom, the characters decide to drive a cab through the completely dark, heavily obstructed Blackwall tunnel. Might the light-averse zombies be in here, rather than, say, having a day out at the National Maritime Museum? Maybe just drive over to Tower Bridge? It’s not far by car, as the cabbie character would know. They narrowly escape, no thanks to their ‘Let’s read this occult incantation out loud!’ horror movie stupidity.
‘The infected’ are zombies, end of
Even if characters in zombie films live in a universe where zombie movies don’t exist, any film that refuses to call zombies zombies instantly draws attention to it. It’s like sitting down for dinner and your partner saying: ‘Could you pass the sodium chloride dispersal unit?’
The army instantly turns into rapists
Only the most mental army officer would start planning to rape female captives for breeding purposes after 28 days. What if a cure is found on day 29? It’s definitely court martial territory, although the Mail and the Sun would start a campaign to get you off. And while the army doesn’t have the most spotless record on this, why do soldiers in horror movies always turn into sexual predators? Surely there’d be at least a few going, ‘You know this evil, demented breeding plan? It’s a bit evil and demented. Also, maybe we should focus on not being eaten alive, or indeed starving to death?’
It should really be called 28 Triffids Later
Writer Alex Garland is open about taking inspiration from Day of the Triffids. That’s fine, but not so much when it’s the best bits – the creepy deserted hospital and empty London streets. Plus the whole sodding idea of Cillian Murphy awaking in a terrifying, barely-recognisable world.
It’s the 7/10 pub lunch of zombie movies
It’s got zombies, escaping from zombies, gory corpses, the collapse of society and a glimmer of hope for humanity. It’s all perfectly adequate – the zombie equivalent of a pub Sunday roast which was okay but you only got one slice of beef and the potatoes weren’t crispy.