28 Weeks Later: NNNNGGGGRRRRRHHHHHHHH

by

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 see shitty horror movies x3

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.

OH NO TURBO-ZOMBIES QUICK RUN AWAY

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.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALT

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.

AW HELL NAW

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?

Get a haircut

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.

NO, THERE'S NO WAY THE INFECTION COULD COME BACK, WHY DO YOU ASK

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.

Everyone, be on the lookout for horror movie sequels!

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23 Responses to “28 Weeks Later: NNNNGGGGRRRRRHHHHHHHH”

  1. sirtmagus Says:

    You really should see Land of the Dead. At least that had a sense of humor, and it wore the metaphors on its frakkin’ sleeve. Good Dennis Hoppery fun.

    Oh, and Dawn of the Dead (both of them) and Shaun of the Dead. \:3

    But MAN. It’s confusing how much good press this one’s getting. Funny you mention New Yorker because this flick was placed in the “Brilliant Highbrow” quadrant of its monlthy “Approval Matrix.” Yes, the APPROVAL Matrix, in case you wanna know how shitty or golden your tastes are.

    …That’s what Grump Factory’s for! {:3

  2. Loki Says:

    I read somewhere… (Westword I think) that the allagory de jour was the reconstruction of Iraq. So… stupid plot twists leading to zombie’s return is suposted to be Rumsfield dicking around or something. Apparently that makes the movie “Brilliant Highbrow.”

    I wanna see a zombie movie about Cheaney shooting his friend in the face.

  3. johnmora Says:

    I saw Land of the Dead. It was fucking retarded, but I’d rather watch that than this.

  4. Marc M Says:

    Approval Matrix? I always thought the New Yorker was frakkin’ ridiculous but this seals the deal.

  5. sirtmagus Says:

    I jumped the gun.

    Did I say New Yorker? Cuz I meant New York Magazine. And did I say Brilliant Highbrow? I meant Brilliant Lowbrow.

    Forget I said anything at all. ;__;

  6. IGoByChad Says:

    Honestly, I think the worst was the cinematography on this one. The “gritty, hand held camera” became “annoying, and frustratingly flashy.” Definitely leaves me to advise against seeing this movie if you have epilepsy. That basement scene was terrible. God awful, even.

    After I left the theatre, there was thunder and lightning. I maintain that was God laughing in our faces.

  7. johnmora Says:

    Hey, I MENTIONED how terrible the photography for the horror scenes were. The scenes at the beginning where no one’s being chased or eaten by turbo-zombies are just fine, though.

  8. filmwalrus Says:

    When it comes to good horror movies, I almost feel like I have to run out the theater and dive behind a baracade to escape the ensuing crap explosion unleashed by the sequels and knockoffs that come pouring into the wake. Producers rarely know when to leave a good thing alone.

    Sounds like Danny Boyle was right to bail on this one. I’ve been hearing interesting things about his “Sunshine” though the US doesn’t get it until September!

  9. johnmora Says:

    I guess Danny Boyle executive produced this, though.

  10. Loki Says:

    But what does that mean excatly? It could be that he agreed for them to make a sequel and then he picked up a paycheck.

  11. johnmora Says:

    So what are you saying? If it had been good, Danny Boyle must’ve been really involved? :p

  12. Brian B Says:

    Good press for lousy movies isn’t new.

    “The Descent”, anyone?

  13. Loki Says:

    “So what are you saying? If it had been good, Danny Boyle must’ve been really involved?”

    No, I’m just saying that the executive producer credit is really vauge. It can mean all types of different levels of involvment. Maybe Boyle was really involved with the production of the movie and it still was a turd. I’m just saying it’s hard to know.

    But I’d like to think that had he been really involved the movie would have been better. Call me an optimist.

    …or something.

  14. johnmora Says:

    Fair enough. And Film Walrus might disagree with you, Brian B, about The Descent. I’m looking forward to renting it and giving it a grump of its own. I’m thinking of titling it The Descent: Six Chicks with Picks (No Dicks!).

  15. danswill Says:

    IM GONNA BE SEEING THIS THIS WEEKEND CAUSE I BELIEVE IN THE AV CLUB’S RATINGS MORE THAN GRUMP DA FUMPS FACTORY’S HO YEAH

  16. IGoByChad Says:

    And John Mora goes out on a gimmick, folks!

  17. Brian B Says:

    There are also a few production stills floating around with Danny Boyle directing a few scenes. Or at least talking to infected extras and pointing. That’s directing, right?

  18. Marc M Says:

    I had to shut my eyes a few times during this.
    Not because of any of the violence, but because of that FRAKKIN SHAKY CAM!!! AND THE FLASHING WHITE LIGHT TO GO ALONG WITH IT.

    Seriously, this is not good camera-work, directors. So cut it out.
    *insert AUUUUUUURRRRGH emote here*

  19. johnmora Says:

    SEE I TOLD YOU

  20. The random person that is interupting your conversation... Says:

    Huh.

    Well, I liked it. First one is better but not by that much. Its not. That. Freaking. Horrible.

    You’re kinda making it out to be the work of some evil, evil creature…

  21. johnmora Says:

    It was brainless, meaningless and a waste of time and potential. Not entertaining at all.

  22. sirtmagus Says:

    So I saw it on DVD, it ended a few minutes ago. My thoughts:

    It was okay. Reminds me a lot of Terminator 3. It shouldn’t happen, there’s no point, it’s got a lot of issues, but eh, it was a decent action flick. Same with this. If you wanna see blood and turbo-zombies, then this is your movie. If you want a story with substance and relevance that is something OTHER than Iraq occupation then… ehhhh.

    The opening IS a marvelous bit of horror film making but, yeah, everything else after it is a disappointment, save for the overall feel. The apocalyptic hopelessness reminds me of the first movie, which is great because HE, this is the sequel and the (over)use of that now-everywhere God Speed The Black Emperor song (see: Beowulf trailer) from the end of 28 Days Later did well to suck me into the new movie. The leaps in logic, however, shook me out of the movie completely. Who the fuck let Robert Caryle in to see his wife? Truly maddening. The way the U.S. forces acted were pretty questionable too, so it was easy to like the one nice guy who helped them out.

    I don’t think the photography/camerawork is all that bad, it was actually pleasing to see how good it looks most of the time. Then again, I love the shaketastic Jason Bourne movies. Though I will not dare defend that one supremely annoying bit of night vision towards the end, and flashing white lights have no place in movies, unless they’re rave movies, then they have no place at all. And yeah, once things got rolling with the RUN DIE RUN DIE action I couldn’t wait until its stupid “Here we go again!” ending. Again, like T3. =P

    So, decent zombie movie but shameless exploitation/follow-up to I guess what could be considered a modern horror classic by now. If I worked at The Onion’s AV Club I’d have given this a C or C- for Robert Carlyle and his little arc and the successfully dreary feel. I also still stand firm in my support of George Romero and his influential (and fun!) work. Don’t knock Spam. It’s got its own key! \:3

  23. Chuck Says:

    Short answer, I agree with everything you said.

    It just generally chaps my hide when somebody gets paid to write something of lesser quality than I’d settle for when writing for fun. No script should get through all the levels of approval and end up on screen with this many “Uh, you should probably rethink that” moments intact.

    The one good thing about the movie post-opening was how for most of it the thoughtless, careless methods of cleansing the city were a far bigger threat to the survivors than the infected were. Hopefully that’s a big part of the Iraq metaphor they were going for.

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