28 Days Later is a British zombie horror film directed by Danny Boyle.
Okay, okay. This is a bit of a digression, but... you know that song "O Danny Boy"? You know the one, "O Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling from glen to..." anyway. It's an Irish song and it's pretty well known actually. Well, the first time I heard the director's name, I was wondering why they named him "Danny" instead of just Daniel. I'm thinking, since his last name is BOYle, they named him Danny Boyle as a reference to the song. Just a theory. ANYWAY.
28 Days Later is a bit of a departure from traditional zombie horror, and it's been a point of contention whether it is a zombie movie or not.
Personally, I think it's just semantics when people start arguing about this. I mean, a zombie to me is a human being who behaves like an animal, loses all humanity. That is exactly what 28 Days Later depicts. Don't give me bullcrap about how zombies have to be slow or zombies have to eat human flesh.
But the departure is that the zombies do not A: eat human flesh B: stagger. The zombies in 28 Days Later are infected with "Rage", a disease first found in monkeys (a reference to this is made in Shaun of the Dead at the end of the film). As the name suggests, "Rage" simply causes people do be ultra violent and filled with, well, rage. Except this rage does not extend to others infected with rage.
The film begins with a youth lying on a hospital bed. He awakes into post-apocalyptic London, seemingly devoid of life. He is soon attacked and saved by two human survivors. One survivor dies and later those remaining meet up with two other survivors (father and daughter) and they go out searching for a base of soldiers who supposedly have an answer for the infection.
Where 28 Days Later shines is its brilliant rendition of a world where humanity has experienced an apocalypse. The shots are often very beautiful, from desolate London to burning Manchester, to the pristine and quiet fields and glens of the countryside. It asks many questions and successfully answers several. It doesn't answer all of them and I wouldn't say that in a good way. It raises some questions that I feel it didn't want to raise, or didn't expect, and for that reason it doesn't touch them.
Part of me is just not satisfied with how the movie handles the fact that the protagonist brutally murders a group of army soldiers in such a horrendous way that he is mistaked for a zombie. He gets away with it. He succumbs to rage, this thing that has caused society to kill itself, and the movie portrays it like a good thing. It saves them.
And later, he lives a happy life!
(That is, if one goes by the theatrical ending. There is a second ending in which he dies, but nevertheless, he dies relatively unburdened)
I can reconcile it. It was rage that was underwent to protect love, to protect something fragile and beautiful. The movie suggests that love, our intimate interactions with other human beings, is what makes us human, is what makes life worth living. And since these zombies are creatures that possess no love, no reason to live, are filled only with rage, they are clearly no longer human. So perhaps the main character is faced with the question of becoming a monster himself to protect this precious thing that keeps him from becoming a monster. But the movie I don't think means to say that. He kills the soldiers because they aren't human too because they don't recognize what humanity is, what is precious, what is love (baby don't hurt me). I think there's a bit of a disconnect with that, but oh well.
It's still a very beautiful movie. And the questions it raises are interesting. It's not really a horror movie in that it isn't particularly scary, in my opinion. But hey, that really isn't what it's going for. It's not trying to scare you, it's trying to make you look at what humanity is and what keeps us together.