Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” was a big horror film that made a boom when it appeared in the states, so a sequel was a no brainer. As with most genre efforts, with a sequel you have to go bigger, louder, and faster. While I miss “28 Days Later’s” more subtle, quiet, and somber meditation on the end of the world, and a rapid fire virus, “28 Weeks Later” has its strong points. It’s a solid follow up with some very good ideas in its corner, it just fails in some elements, especially in how it breaks the rules of its own villainous disease.
Six months after the devastation of the British population by the infection “Rage,” the US military has seemingly eradicated it. Now occupying the UK, the military move in to re-construct the remnants of society, all with a locked down structure that doubles as a village. As the military rebuilds, scientist Scarlet, as played by Rose Byne, isn’t convinced that the infection is gone. She’s also deathly afraid it might return. After barely escaping the clutches of the infected in a countryside cottage, Don Harris is tortured with the memories of abandoning his wife during the chaos. Reunited with son Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) and daughter Tammy (Imogen Poots), he hopes to start anew, but the shit hits the fan and a new torrent of chaos and bloodshed is unleashed. Now Scarlet and Sniper Doyle (Jeremy Renner) look to escape, especially since Andy might have the key to the curing the infection.
As a follow up loosely connected to the original (We never really learn how Jim, Hannah, and Selena fared) it amounts to a tense and exhilarating action horror movie, nevertheless. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo just builds up to something he can never quite deliver, and once the film explodes out of the starting gates, it falters consistently. “28 Weeks Later” mainly plays out a barebones narrative that’s based around focusing on the re-emergence of the rage virus. Where the original Boyle film told us what happened and how it happened, Fresnadillo gives us a vivid re-enactment that’s just as chaotic as one would imagine. The rage virus is a merciless entity in these films, and Fresnadillo successfully demonstrates how it transforms its hosts in a matter of seconds. What’s more Fresnadillo and co., manage to perfectly amplify how quickly and easily a society can fall under this virus.
I’m also a fan of the cast littered with underrated character actors like Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, and Imogen Poots, respectively. What hurts a potentially great film is the tinkering with the biology of the disease, and how it’s communicated. Suddenly there’s this idea that having eyes with two colors can offset the genetic infection, and there’s the whole sub-plot involving character Don. Granted Robert Carlyle’s performance is stellar, but to create dramatic tension the screenplay ignores the principles of the infection by turning Don in to an inadvertent villain. In a movie where the infection and human fear are perfect, the injection of Don as a seemingly cognizant infected, who is inexplicably stalking his children, comes off as contrived and forced.
That said, at least Fresnadillo’s direction is top notch with some genuinely memorable atmospheric sequences. He’s also prone to playing with light and shadows, staging the best scenes in pitch darkness or murky alleyways. I even love the turning point in the narrative with the on the nose red room. “28 Weeks Later” is a solid second chapter Danny Boyle’s horror masterpiece, and while I don’t watch it nearly as much as I do its predecessor, it’s a rousing action horror entry.