I was a fool. A fool, I say! I actually expected something from a sequel to a movie I hold in high esteem. I know, I know. I’m a grump. I should know better. I should’ve said, “Bah!”, puffed on my pipe and gone back to reading the New Yorker or whatever. But I didn’t. I looked into my father’s eyes and said with complete sincerity, “Let’s go see 28 Weeks Later!” If I had a time machine and a gun, I would’ve shot myself where I stood.
It’s not even like I had a hugely strong drive to see the movie. Yeah, I’d seen the trailer and was mildly impressed. But, you see, circumstances came together to completely bone me. It was graduation weekend. I didn’t have a computer or even a room of my own. I was sitting around in a motel room with blood stains on the floor with my parents being threatened with Batman Forever on the TV’s cable. I kind of wanted to see Spider-Man 3, but I had a strong notion that it would be playing in IMAX at the theater back home (and guess what? It was). So 28 Weeks Later was the only other option I had. But that doesn’t even completely excuse me. I was fuckin’ excited. Eager, even. Sigh.
I should’ve known even before the movie began I’d be pissed before long. A gaggle of snotty, loud, retarded teenagers came in just before showtime and wouldn’t stop chattering amongst themselves. The trailers were so dull, nondescript and uninteresting that I couldn’t even tell you what they were now. I mean, Jesus. I was fading in and out of attention during them. I shouldn’t even notice how boring and long a preview is. CHRIST.
But then the movie started. And it was actually good! Alice and Don (Catherine McCormack and Robert Carlyle) are shacking with an elderly couple and a few other misfits trying to hold out against the turbo-zombies from the first movie and are coming down to some of the last of their supplies. McCormack and Carlyle get teary-eyed over the fact that they’ll probably never see their kids again and gee, isn’t it convenient they were away on a trip before all this happened. Of course, this wouldn’t be much of a horror movie if it was all about them cooking dinner and being depressing, so sooner or later the turbo-zombies find them, break into their domestic fortress and generally fuck their shit up.
But of course if you’ve been keeping tabs on this movie, you know it doesn’t end there. Helpful subtitles let us in on what’s been happening since the last movie up until 28 weeks after the infection began spreading. The turbo-zombies starved after eventually decimating the population, NATO came back to help sanitize and secure the premises and people are finally being let back into a “safe” zone completely protected by rowdy American NATO soldiers (seriously, did no one else volunteer? Who else is even in NATO?). Of course, surprise, surprise. We get introduced to Carlyle’s two kids, a girl who’s not quite legal yet and an adorable young moppet of a boy (I think England mass produces them). Turns out Daddy was found, saved, and is now one of the civilian head honchos of their heavily-armed utopia. After a teary-eyed recollection of what happened to Mommy, they all settle in to start their new lives. The End.
No, not really. Quite a bit more happens during the movie, unfortunately. The kids generally do stupid shit, the turbo-zombies come back and panic ensues. It’s where I started really getting pissed off by this movie. And it all generally stems from the fact that it doesn’t give a single fuck about having a purpose or a story any further than “turbo-zombies kill, humans flee.” At least 28 Days Later had some message about human nature to give us, even though it wasn’t particularly original. 28 Weeks Later doesn’t even go that far, though. Huge sequences go on with turbo-zombies maiming, killing and infecting, with little else to them to support or defend their place in the movie other than “people wanna see zombies.” These parts aren’t very artfully shot or even thought out. There’s the standard quick cuts, shaky-cam and flashing lights. It’s a shame, too, since the rest of the movie has decent photography. The grainy, in-the-moment look of the first movie returns, giving the proceedings some urgency as if you’re watching it as it’s happening. But it gets lost for jerky, MTV editing during the “scary” moments, keeping you from even seeing what’s going on. And all the violence is so removed from anything resembling context or anything the audience cares about that it’s just senseless and indulgent.
What’s worse is that the makers of this movie were so set on making sure their premise was air-tight that they have to resort to implausibility to get their zombies back. I mean, really, what else would it take for a highly-monitored, army-run police state where all turbo-zombies have been exterminated to suddenly get turbo-zombies again? About a half dozen stupid, implausible, sloppy things have to happen, that’s what. I couldn’t believe it. Well, I COULD, but I didn’t want to. I expected better. I DESERVED better. But no, characters suddenly lose all intelligence in order for the obnoxious teenagers sitting in the back to get their gore and mayhem. Not only that, but I wonder if the writers even SAW the first movie, because they blatantly contradict it at least once. Some army guy or whatever says something to the effect that since the infection can’t cross species, there’s no danger of infection from birds or dogs. Except that the disease originally came from a monkey, you OAF. IT CROSSED SPECIES THEN, DIDN’T IT? I understand if no one in the movie world was able to pinpoint the origin of it, but goddamn, you’d think that if it did it once, it could do it again. But no, they just completely dismissed that plot point in order to make it easier for themselves. God FUCKING dammit.
And the KIDS. ARGH. I call for a moratorium on kids in horror movies. They’re so fucking stupid and cheap. Because we all know kids don’t know better, the writers can have the kids do completely retarded shit in order to drum up scares or serve the plot. Both happen here. PLUS, for the duration of the turbo-zombie-infested part of the movie, they use the children and a woman in order to gain our sympathy. So fucking lame. I know there’s been a whole “frightened weak woman/rape metaphor” thing going on in horror movies for a long, long time. But Ellen fucking Ripley should’ve sounded the death knell for that tired old horse of a cliche. I’d like to see a horror movie that doesn’t exploit kids or women, please. Anyone out there listening?
And before I forget, even the gore in this pile of dogshit’s tired and dull most of the time. One of the only memorable violent parts was also beaten to the punch earlier this year. A helicopter specialist Flynn (LOST‘s Harold Perrineau) has HAD IT UP TO HERE WITH THESE MUTHAFUCKIN’ TURBO-ZOMBIES and uses the blades of his helicopter to mow them down. …Just like “Planet Terror” in Grindhouse. Oh dear. They must’ve thought they were being so cool and creative in this movie by doing it. I bet the director was really excited and everything. Then he saw Grindhouse and the grin was steadily wiped off his face by seeing the same gimmick done about two times better than he’d done it.
Also, for no reason other than plot convenience, it seems a certain turbo-zombie keeps cropping up in the movie. Over and over again. No one ever succeeds in killing it until the end, and it keeps seeming to find the main characters. Quite a clever turbo-zombie, that one.
I simply don’t understand the good press this movie’s getting. The Onion’s AV Club, usually as cranky as I am, gives the fucking thing a B+? A B+?!?! This shouldn’t get an ANYTHING + except for maybe an F+ for failing so spectacularly at delivering a good movie. The writer seems to solely base his decision on the movie based on his opinion of the director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s earlier work in the Spanish film Intacto. Yeah, the guy seems to have the necessary chops to film people running towards the camera; it figured into a stand-out scene in that movie. But he uses up all that talent in the first ten minutes. Then this critic cums all over the fact that the movie still has the gritty, shaky, hand held camera aesthetic of the first one. Did he not pay attention to anything else?! All the artsy fartsy photography choices in the world couldn’t save this mess. He praises the “immediacy” of the film without criticizing the fact that nothing’s there to support all the visceral visuals.
And yet it all started out so well. The first segment of the movie, pre-credits, is a miniature little gem of a zombie movie. It distills everything the first movie had to say, and everything the second movie has to offer, in what can’t even be 15 minutes long. Characters are sympathize-able (although really just sketches of characters) and the situation’s more dire, yet hopeful, than anything that follows it. Carlyle’s character does some cold-blooded, though perfectly understandable, things and of course runs for his life. It’s exciting, heart-thumping horror the way that the first movie was. When it comes out on DVD, rent it and watch the first part and then just return it. You’ll come away significantly ahead.
I could not have been more let down by this sequel. I went into it expecting the same breath of fresh air to horror movies that I got when I saw 28 Days Later. What I got instead was a film that seemed content to push down the gas pedal to full speed while in neutral in a patch of mud, slinging the shit everywhere and digging itself deeper into forgettable horror territory in the process. This franchise is dead. Even if it makes $200 squintillion at the box office, it’s as dead as its turbo-zombies; kicking and screaming even though there’re no vital signs left. 99 minutes later I wanted my fucking money back, and I was as rage-filled as anything you’d see in this turd-pile of a movie.