28 Days Later (2002) [DVD]

Anti-vivisection activists make a very bad judgment call and release an experimental monkey infected with "rage". 28 Days Later..., as the title has it, bicycle messenger Cillian Murphy wakes up from a post-traffic accident coma in a deserted London hospital, ventures out to find the city depopulated and the few remaining normal people doing everything to avoid the jittery, savage, zombie-like "infecteds" who attack on sight. Our bewildered hero has to adjust to the loss of his family and the entire world, but hooks up with several others--including a tough black woman (Naomie Harris) and a likable London cabbie (Brendan Gleeson)--on a perilous trip northwards, to seek refuge at army officer Christopher Eccleston's fortified retreat. However, even if they survive the plague, the future of humanity is still in doubt. Directed by Danny Boyle and scripted by novelist Alex Garland, this is a terrific SF/horror hybrid, evoking American and Italian zombie movies but also the very British end-of-the-world tradition of John Wyndham (Day of the Triffids) and Survivors. Shot on digital video, which gives the devastated cityscapes a closed-circuit-camera realism, this grips from the first, with its understandably extreme performances, its terrifyingly swift monster attacks and its underlying melancholy. Deliberately crude, 28 Days Later is also sometimes exceptionally subtle. --Kim Newman

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