On The Couch #37: 28 Weeks Later

28 Days Later is my favorite (non-comedic) horror film. After years of reluctantly seeing horror movies with friends, finally there was one I really got into. When I first saw it, it was like a breath of fresh air. I loved the feeling of isolation and desolation brought on by Cillian Murphy waking up alone in an empty hospital, emerging onto empty streets, looking for someone, anyone else. On a side note, this ended up being borrowed pretty heavily in the beginning of The Walking Dead comic. I wonder if they’ll keep that part in the TV show. I guess we’ll find that out soon enough (Walking Dead premieres on AMC in 3 days at the time of this writing).

I still like saying to no one in particular “Hellllllllooooooo…” after every time I watch 28 Days Later. But what I really liked about 28 Days Later was the fast moving zombie. The zombies in the movie were no joke. They weren’t slow moving shamblers; they were the exact opposite. They were rage fueled beasts that really wanted to take a bite out of you.

If I had to pick which zombie movie world I’d be stuck in, I would definitely pick slow and hard to kill over insanely fast and slightly less less hard to kill. If the fast moving zombies of 28 Days Later were in the mall of the original Dawn of the Dead, it wouldn’t be the Zach Snyder Dawn of the Dead remake; it would be a two minute long movie! Roger and company wouldn’t even make it into Penney’s. Do you remember how many times the four main characters in Romero’s Dawn of the Dead used run and push moves out of a John Madden video game to get around zombies? That doesn’t work with the sprinters.

Fact: Zombies can’t swim. Except for the ones who can! Keep running!

But that run and push move from Dawn of the Dead illustrates something about the whole zombie movie genre: more than anything else, more so than even the zombies themselves, the major cause of death in zombie movies is hubris, hubris on the part of the living. In 28 Days Later, it was the hubris of militant animal rights activists that caused the virus outbreak in Britain. In Dawn of the Dead, Roger was infected because he went out of his way to put himself in riskier and riskier situations. And in 28 Weeks Later, it’s the hubris of a well intentioned doctor that gets the whole rage virus zombie plague started back up again.

The most interesting thing to me about 28 Weeks Later is that it presents the viewer with a variation on the classic “If you could go back in time and kill Hitler as a child, would you do it?” It’s set up very early on that young Andy isn’t going to become infected once he comes into contact with infected blood, but that he’ll be a carrier, just like his mother and infect everyone else. At various points in the movie, Andy is set to die, but is saved, usually by military personnel ignoring their orders (Jeremy Renner both refusing to shoot Andy with his sniper rifle and later taking out another sniper that would have shot Andy, the doctor trying to keep Andy safe to use him to make an antidote, Flynn not shooting Andy, but instead flying him out to Paris). The interesting part is that none of these characters, with the exception of the doctor, know how dangerous Andy is. The others just don’t want it on their conscience that they killed a child. The viewer, on the other hand, knows very well that this kid could bring about the fall of mankind, making it very hard, especially once he’s exposed to the virus, not to wish something bad to happen to him. If 28 Weeks Later taught me anything, it’s that there’s a decent chance I’d shoot baby Hitler.

Pop quiz hotshot: This kid is going to bring about the zombie apocalypse. What do you do?

Now that I’ve seen 28 Weeks Later, I have to say I’m a bit shocked when I hear people say they prefer this over 28 Days Later. 28 Days Later is much better than 28 Weeks Later. What 28 Weeks Later does well, 28 Days Later does better. Take the “my dad is a zombie and now he’s trying to kill us” subplot. 28 Days Later dealt with this very painfully, with the immediacy of killing the little girl’s dad once he became infected. 28 Weeks Later, on the other hand, drags this out through the whole movie. After the dad gets infected, he becomes almost Jason or Freddy like in his tenacity and invulnerability. When Jeremy Renner is leading the group’s escape out of the camp and Andy sees his dad, I thought Andy was seeing things, not that his zombie dad was actually stalking them. He didn’t need to be the final bad guy at the end. The scene where Andy’s sister kills him probably would have been more effective from a character standpoint much earlier in the movie. That way, we could have seen the effect that killing your zombie dad, or watching your sister kill your zombie dad, has on someone.

Jeremy Renner looks confused because he’s trying to figure out how he wandered from the set of The Hurt Locker to here.

All that said, I really enjoyed the opening scenes of 28 Weeks Later tremendously, showing the horrific choice Andy’s dad made to survive and the set-up of what happened to London between 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later.

I really liked seeing these in-story promo posters for 28 Weeks Later around NYC shortly before the movie opened. They’re so cool looking, right down to the fake creases.

LOST FAN ALERT: If you’re a reader of this blog and was excited to find out that Jeremy Davies was in It’s Kind of a Funny Story, then you also might be excited to find out that Michael from Lost, Harold Perrineau, is in 28 Weeks Later. The producers totally blew their chance to combine Lost with 28 Days Later when they didn’t’ have him walk around yelling “Hellllllllllllllllloooooo! Wallllllllllllllllllllllllllt!”


The special features on the 28 Weeks Later Blu-Ray are pretty weak. There are only two deleted scenes and no alternate ending. There are two motion comics included, animated versions of what I think are the 28 Days Later comic. Whoever designed these motion comics should be banned from the profession. I had to turn them off after 30 seconds. The movement of the images and the text in them were so jarring, I could feel my eyes crossing. I haven’t ever rated any motion comic special feature highly, but this one is especially bad in its design.

In the end, I give 28 Weeks Later 3 blarrgghs and 1/2 brainnnnns…