Do not see this film on a full stomach

Gory, gory, gory remake fails to live up to the original’s appeal

By Bill Zwecker on May 10, 2007

Director Danny Boyle’s edgy and very gritty 2002 film “28 Days Later” was an outstanding addition to the genre of “plague pictures” — films usually (but not always) set in a dark future world being overwhelmed by some kind of disease or infection that threatens to annihilate the planet. 

Now, Spanish filmmaker Juan Carlos Fresnadillo picks up the mantle of Boyle’s original concept and propels us forward six months — after the bloodthirsty, vicious zombies infected with what came to be called the “rage virus” had seemingly wiped out most of Britain.  With the American armed forces in command, the military declares the coast is clear, safe to begin the long process of rebuilding the United States’ obliterated mother country. 

One of the first refugees to venture back to the shell of what was once London is Don (Robert Carlyle) — allowed back into a small portion of the city the authorities declare appropriate to begin the rebuilding process.  Don is soon reunited with his son and daughter, Andy and Tammy, explaining he had barely escaped the zombies, but unfortunately had to leave behind his wife, Alice (Catherine McCormack). 

Of course — no surprise here! — the initial sense of calm is quickly shattered when the virus resurfaces.  Fresnadillo then takes us on quite the wild — and I cannot stress this enough — brutal and bloody journey.  As tough to watch as were many of the scenes in Boyle’s original film, “28 Weeks Later” is far more gory.  This is not a film for the faint of heart and likely not recommended for viewing too soon after a heavy meal.  In fact, I predict concession sales during “28 Weeks Later” may drop drastically because eating is likely to be the last thing one would want to do while watching this orgy of gore. 

While the plot is relatively predictable, the pacing will keep audiences riveted and fascinated by the ways Fresnadillo and his team deliver death and mayhem. 

In today’s political climate — a time of war when governmental and military morality are called into question on a regular basis — an intriguing aspect of “28 Weeks Later” involves decision-making by the authorities. 

As I watched this picture, it was impossible not to think about what extremes people in positions of authority would go to, believing they had no other choices, as they struggled to harness a crisis that threatened to kill everyone, or at least turn them into murdering zombies. 

This is a truly frightening film and will likely lead even committed horror fans to jump a few times.  But several aspects are irritating:

There were numerous times when Fresnadillo’s affection for jumpy hand-held camera shots detracted from — rather than enhanced — the urgency of the action the director was clearly trying to achieve.  That approach also seemed to confuse the storyline, making you wonder exactly what was happening for a moment or two. 

Also, the soundtrack was far too intrusive, coming across as a constant wall of “white sound” that didn’t add much to the film’s overall impact. 

There is also an interesting secret revealed here, but to know that going in would greatly hurt a viewer’s ability to be both surprised and horrified — two major reasons for going to a film like this.  I won’t even hint at what that secret is all about, and don’t let anyone tell you about it ahead of time.  Trust me, you will be disappointed if you know it beforehand. 

While this won’t go down as one of Robert Carlyle’s best acting efforts, he does deliver about as good a performance as an actor could, given the restrictions of his role. 

Catherine McCormack, Rose Byrne (as the chief medical officer, Scarlet) and Mackintosh Muggleton and Imogen Potts (as the children) are excellent and believable as they inhabit a world so terrible, reality seems far more like a living nightmare. 

28 Weeks Later


Starring: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne and Catherine McCormack

Director: Carlos Fresnadillo

Rated: R for strong violence and gore, language and some sexuality/nudity