- Monthly Theme: Families in Peril
- The Film: 28 Weeks Later
- Country of origin: U.K.
- Date of U.K. release: May 11, 2007
- Date of U.S. release: May 11, 2007
- Studio: Fox Atomic, et al.
- Distributer: Fox Atomic & Fox Searchlight Pictures
- Domestic Gross: $28.6 million
- Budget: $15 million (estimated)
- Directors: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
- Producers: Danny Boyle, Alex Garland, et al.
- Screenwriters: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Rowan Joffé, E.L. Lavigne & Jesus Olmo
- Adaptation? No.
- Cinematography: Enrique Chediak
- Make-Up/FX: Cliff Wallace, et al.
- Music: John Murphy
- Part of a series? This is a sequel to Danny Boyle’s 2002 film 28 Days Later.
- Remakes? No.
- Genre Icons in the cast? No.
- Other notables?: Yes. Character actors Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne and Jeremy Renner.
- Awards?: Best Horror at the 2008 Empire Awards. Eloy de la Iglesia Award at the Málaga Spanish Film Festival.
- Tagline: “Quarantine. Eradication. Sterilization. Repopulation. Re-Infection.”
- The Lowdown: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s 28 Weeks Later (2007), the conceptual sequel to Danny Boyle’s fantastic 28 Days Later, which Kristine and I watched last year and both adore. Fresnadillo is the guy who made that 2001 thriller Intacto which was very good.
If you haven’t seen 28 Weeks Later our discussion will include massive SPOILERS.
Kristine: First off, I have a request.
Sean: Shoot. Anything for you, darling.
Kristine: First of all, I demand that this chat be presented by Imogen Poots (that’s her real name) of 28 Weeks Later fame.
Sean: You got it.
Kristine: And I also found out the actor that plays her brother in the movie is named… Mackintosh Muggleton.
Sean: You are a liar.
Kristine: I am not lying. [Editor’s Note: Upon further research, it turns out the role of Andy is played by Mackintosh Muggleton. Stage name?]
Sean: So, our first sequel… What, overall, did you think of it?
Kristine: I thought it was a good film. In some ways better than Danny Boyle’s original.
Sean: Oh. How so?
Kristine: I thought the social commentary was more damning…broader. The human relationships were more complex. The infected were scarier to me.
Sean: Yeah, I see that….
Kristine: Also, I thought all the Katrina visuals were really fucking scary and haunting. Like the rooftops painted with prayers and stuff. And the way they were all gathered in the huge Superdome-type building, and the way they were written off.
Sean: Like when they go back to their abandoned house? Yeah, that is very “Katrina.” I think, if there’s a down side, it’s that the movie is a bit too preachy.
Kristine: Yes, returning home to the abandoned neighborhood is so Katrina.
Sean: Yeah, this is definitely a case of horror as overt social commentary.
Kristine: It IS preachy and obvious, but I still found it effective.
Sean: Does that mean the movie is lefty, liberal, anti-Bush?
Kristine: Yes. Which is fine, since I think a lot of horror is right-wing.
Kristine: I don’t have any examples, I just think so.
Sean: Yeah, this is firmly in the George Romero camp of horror movies as lefty critiques. When we watch the original Romero zombie movies, you’ll see.
Kristine: What did you think was the most powerful relationship in 28 Weeks Later?
Sean: Robert Carlyle. Just him. Everything about him was great. He’s the best part of the movie for me.
Kristine: I agree about Robert. Do you think the brutal killing of the wife is gratuitous or necessary?
Sean: I think that’s, like, the standout scene.
Kristine: That scene was insane.
Sean: Yeah Robert killing his wife and the daytime chase that opens the movie were the best scenes, I thought.
Kristine: Yeah, the daytime chase scene was scary as hell. But I’d like it on the record that I thought Rose Byrne was a total nothing in the movie.
Sean: Poor Rose. She’s really blah in this role. I actually also think the kids are total duds.
Kristine: I don’t care about the kiddos either.
Sean: Kids in horror are hard to pull off, and I thought they were vapid and annoying.
Kristine: The mythologizing of children annoys me. Why are their lives more valuable? Which actually dovetails into The Mist, though I am not trying to rush along.
Sean: But the brutality of the wife scene…. I think that’s the most effective bit of shock and horror in the movie. Her character gets such a raw deal; it’s kind of upsetting.
Kristine: I have a question about the wife.
Kristine: When she kisses him, she wasn’t deliberately trying to give him the virus, was she? She didn’t know she was infected, right?
Sean: Remember that she is left behind at the start of the movie because she wants to protect that strange kid that shows up….. No I don’t think she knows….
Kristine: Her being strapped down by the military when he kills her is so fucked up. God, that scene.
Sean: I am just annoyed by the “woman as maternal martyr” thing. Yeah, the marriage dynamic is interesting and Carlyle’s performance is amazing.
Kristine: Agreed. Which also happens with wilted Rose, and of course the “Amanda” character in The Mist.
Sean: I actually think the movie’s biggest flaw is that it doesn’t use the Imogen character to full advantage. SHE should be our main POV character and her realization about what Carlyle did to their mother should be really momentous…
Kristine: So, what’s scarier – zombies or society?
Sean: Do you mean, society as represented by the military?
Sean: Um…..I think the soldiers are more scary for sure….
Kristine: Me, too. When they are mowing down people on the streets…
Sean: In The Mist, I think the soldiers are depicted as heroes. They’re the ones who appear at the end to fight the threat. The big difference is that in 28 Weeks Later the threat comes from within; the soldiers have to turn on the civilians in order to contain the monster.
Kristine: Well, I don’t know if they are “heroes” in The Mist. They’re just not totally vile. What did you think of Jeremy Renner?
Sean:Jeremy Renner is hot and amazing and I want to run away with him.
Kristine: His character is better than Wilted Rose, but not by a whole lot. They make Rose’s character so sexless.
Sean: I think, though, the Rose Byrne vs. Jeremy Renner characters are a reflection of the gender politics of 28 Weeks Later, which are super tradish. Renner’s Doyle is stoic and brave, wile Rose’s Scarlet is called upon to be really vapid and useless….
Kristine: But J-Ren (the actor) is very charismatic.
Sean: I do think Scarlet’s death is still kind of shocking, maybe more so than Doyle’s. I like how the movie goes for broke with killing everyone.
Kristine: I agree, but remind me of her death scene…
Sean: Carlyle beats her to death with the night-vision rifle and we see it from his POV and it’s awful and terrible.
Kristine: Oh, right. Too bad they didn’t let her become a zombie though. See, Rose never gets to have any fun. Carlyle was such a great zombie.
Sean: She’s much better served in comedies, as an actress, I think. Carlyle was amazing. He is on that stupid Once Upon a Time show now with Margie from Big Love and it is horrible.
Kristine: I think the choice to not let her become a zombie is because she is such a pretty, delicate actress. Which is why it would have been so great to let her rage out.
Sean: Agreed. Or Imogen. What did you think of Renner?
Kristine: I told you- charismatic as hell, but still underused in his role. But he gets a lot more internal conflict than Rose does.
Sean: When I saw this in the theater, it was before he was a known quantity and I had totally forgotten he was in it. This is thing with horror – a lot of times when you go back and watch horror movies of yesterday the stars of tomorrow are there, working their way up the “ladder.” Horror is so ghettoized. Anyway, it was still fun to see him pop up and be amazing and hot.
Kristine: He is hot. What did you think of the pilot guy shaking the survivor off his helicopter?
Sean: That whole thing was so dumb. See, the movie has great moments like when they’re all locked in confinement and the virus is spreading really fast – that was awesome. It plays on all of our contagion fears and also just the horrible, monolithic crowd thing. But then the movie has these really dopey things like that guy hanging on the helicopter. So fucking stupid. Though the blades cutting through the zombies was fun gore and I loved it.
Kristine: I hated the fake family of Rose, Jeremy and the kiddies. Whereas, the makeshift family in 28 Days Later was real and moving.
Sean: The only good thing about that faux-family thing in 28 Weeks is that it really does make it shocking when Jeremy and Rose die horribly. 28 Days was more romantic and humane, I think, and I’m going on the record as saying I really prefer the theatrically released ending and not the one where Cillian Murphy dies. 28 Weeks is very dystopian and bleak in comparison.
Kristine: The recreation of the family theme is a mistake in the sequel. They just should have come up with a new idea.
Sean: Well, it doesn’t work at all in 28 Weeks because the kids are dumb cyphers.
Kristine: Agreed, to all of it.
The Girl’s rating: I’m traumatized but it feels sort of good.
The Freak’s rating: Better than I remembered.