28 Days Later (2003)

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Occasionally within the throes of watered down horror movies, a director comes along and decides to completely re-write the way horror is done. Danny Boyle is one of those people who will undoubtedly change horror movies. The movie constantly changes into pastels of moods within its canvas setting constantly going from light moods, ala the shopping scene, instantly cranking up the tension. He can leave us smiling with delight and in a split second leave us biting our nails and cringing in our seats. Boyles relies a lot on isolation to scare us, showing massively long scenes of lonely landscapes forcing us to feel even more terror and insecurity.

After animal rights terrorists invade a science lab, they begin breaking monkey’s free from their cages despite the frantic warnings from a scientist and are violently attacked by the apes that tear them apart and infect them. 28 days later, a man awakes from a coma in a hospital bed to discover a desolate and trashed hospital before him. He begins to inspect the marvel before him as the entire city of Britain is empty with no one in sight. He stumbles upon survivors that save him and tell him a virus has broken free on the general population and mankind as he knows it ceases to exist. The results of the virus are the infected. People that growl with beaming red eyes that kill anything in their path and infect others by tearing them apart or vomiting blood on them. It only takes twenty seconds to become one, so they waste no time disposing of their friends.

They stumble upon father and daughter survivors who decide to travel a military base where they supposedly have everything under control, but what they will find is not what they will expect. Boyle dares to break the mold of the horror genre by masterfully giving us a range of moods and colors, and terrifying sequences non-stop. Writers Boyle and Garland actually gives us characters we can care about and the director helps us by exploring the psychological effects this horror is having on them. We see Jim, the coma patient, have dreams that he is alone and deserted; we can see the desperation within the father’s eyes, and the torment in the daughter’s. These are actually characters that we feel bad for and within a split second Boyle takes them away from us. Characters in this movie come and go and Boyle snatches them without hesitation. Boyle often drops the characters off in small cramped dark places making the audience even more nervous and more anxious as we know terror is looming but we can do nothing about it.

The infected are horrifying as they stare with beaming red eyes and bloody faces and growl aloud; they can run and jump and dash and never stop. While “28 Days Later” is horror first and foremost it’s also more of a commentary on humanity and how we never really learn from our mistakes. We watch four people forced to live and exist in a world without order, a world with carnage, a world not very different from ours. This forces them act upon themselves and begs the questions: In a world without order, how do you achieve it? Who decides what life should be like, and is it all ultimately futile? This shows what humans do when there’s no structure or basis for order and basically take it upon themselves to do it with unsuccessful results. Danny Boyle is a genius director and might as well have re-invented the horror genre. Bravo Mr. Boyle, bravo.