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28 Weeks Later (2007)
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

review by Gary McMahon

Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later was a rip-roaring British beast of a film, a loose adaptation of Day Of The Triffids but with plague-carrying zombified killers rampaging through an eerily deserted London rather than man-eating space plants. At the end of this first film, the 'rage' virus was spent, and the authorities finally picked up any survivors.

In the sequel, cunningly set 28 weeks later to provide a clever linking title, those survivors of the first wave have been set up in quarantine on the Isle of Dogs until the capital can be repopulated.

During a pretty thrilling opening sequence, Donald Harris (Robert Carlyle) is forced to abandon his wife to a fate worse than (un-)death when the farmhouse they are sheltering in is attacked by a bunch of people suffering from the virus. He is rescued and taken to the safe zone, where he is reunited with his kids, Andy (the oddly named Mackintosh Muggleton) and Tammy (the beautiful Imogen Poots).

Just as the family has settled into their new accommodation, Donald's wife Alice (Catherine McCormack) is found hiding in their old London home when the kids decide to escape to retrieve some photographs of their mother that were left behind during their evacuation.

Alice, it seems, is immune from the effects of the rage virus; she is, however, a carrier. A unique mutation in her DNA - signified by her having eyes of two different colours(!) - means that she can pass on the virus yet remain untouched by its ravages.

Of course, things go drastically wrong, and Donald becomes infected by his wife. While all other sufferers kill at random, for some unexplained reason he begins to hunt down his children and the American army officer (Rose Byrne) who tries to protect them in the hope that Andy's blood (he has the same different colour eyes, you see) may lead to a vaccination for the rage virus.

The film isn't bad, but it isn't great either. The shaky-cam technique is abused to such lengths that I almost turned off the DVD, and the plot relies on some pretty illogical machinations (e.g. the caretaker of a residential building has a pass that allows him into the high security wing of the compound; rooftop guards fail to notice two kids climbing across a bridge into the city in broad daylight; inconsistencies with the virus itself; and Alice Harris - a known carrier of the virus - is left locked in a lab with no guards posted outside the door).

For gore lovers, the death toll is massive and the bloodshed is copious. It's just a pity such attention to detail as displayed when a helicopter decapitates and mutilates hundreds of running mad people wasn't utilised in the script process. It all feels very rushed, and I was desperate for things to calm down a little so characters might develop - this didn't happen; all I got was more blood.

Thankfully, the sensational music of Godspeed You! Black Emperor remains from the first film, and the rest of the score is very fine indeed. The acting is decent (particularly from the impressive Imogen Poots, who comes across like a young Kate Winslett). Unfortunately, that damned shaky camerawork detracts from what sporadic good stuff the film does have to offer. There's a sense that 28 Weeks Later is striving to be more than a gore-filled B-movie, that it wants to be something great... sadly, it falls short and what's left is a diverting but instantly forgettable sequel that is nowhere near as good as the brilliant original.

I did enjoy 28 Weeks Later, but was left with a desire to watch the much better film that spawned it.
28 Weeks Later

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