Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Cast: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack
Sequels often labour in the first film’s shadow, being cruelly whipped by their overbearing master, made to dilute character and premise and generally sully the memories of the first film. Happily, 28 Weeks Later doesn’t need to. Location, character roster, timescale: everything’s new, except those glorious non-Zombies, The Infected (I like them enough to give them capitals).
It looks good, to a point. I felt occasionally that I’d been transported to a 1970s edition of Top of the Pops as their digital stock strained under the weight of all the grading necessary when you’re shooting day for night. The backs of people’s heads were occasionally orange. Digital suits the film, however. Gritty and staccato. The opening manages to make sunlight into the enemy: you’re overexposed, vulnerable in the light, and it works. The first scare is very pleasing and they only get bigger (and stupider, but more of that later) as they go on.
The film’s got pace, fizz and froth, thanks mostly to the speed at which The Infected move. None of your shuffle-twitch here. The right things were kept from the first film. The Infected gobble, throw up blood, grunt and sprint about in a way that would scare me to the bone if it were a game.
And there’s one gripe: it looks like a game. The gaming industry’s fault, perhaps, but American voices in your ear, sniper sights, fatigues, and the constant whirr-whirr atmosphere feels like playing Metal Gear Solid. Which I can’t do. Because I get the Fear. So, if you’re into that, then knock yourself out.
SPECIAL FEATURES (region 2):
• Audio commentary by director/co-writer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and producer/co-writer Enrique Lopez Lavigne
• Deleted scenes with optional audio commentary
• 'Code Red: The Making Of 28 Weeks Later' featurette
• 'The Infected' featurette
• 'Getting Into The Action' featurette
• 'Development' featurette
• 'Decimation' featurette
• Theatrical trailer
• Teaser trailer
In terms of the DVD bits and pieces, it’s a mixed bag - as usual. The menu has a ten second unskippable animated intro, which I consider to be the absolute maximum (whatever happened to just putting something in and watching it?). The commentary is endearing, delivered in rapid Spanish-accented English by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and Enrique Lopez Lavigne. The ‘making of’ is short, studio-stamped and self-congratulatory, but the piece on The Infected is revealing, funny and full of ‘oh, cool’ moments - much more like a DVD extra should be. I’d watch it again, I’d show it to friends.
I’m a zombie flick fan, though, and the overbearing impression I get of this film is that it takes itself too seriously. Zombie movies (yes, yes, but this might as well be one) depend on fear-tinged hilarity for re-watchings. They have to be fun to watch with friends and popcorn and pizza. But for the helicopter scene (the only place where I sat up on my beanbag and exclaimed in an empty room), it’s all very serious. If I want to watch a straight-faced post-apocalyptic fate-of-mankind film I’ll watch Children of Men, because it’s got more laughs (Michael Caine, I salute you). I’m stuck thinking of a reason I’d want to own it. And it would have been awesome on the big screen.
FILM : 7/10
EXTRAS : 7/10
OVERALL : 7/10
Han The Chan