Revisiting the Film that Reignited the Zombie Apocalypse

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28 Days Later is something of a modern cult classic but even so, it’s hard to believe that it only came out fourteen-fifteen years ago. But then again, it’s also hard to believe that it DID come out fourteen-fifteen years ago. 2007 sequel 28 Weeks Later and talk regarding a potential third and fourth series film notwithstanding, the film operates as most cult classics do so well- telling a story that is in many ways a circular journey and neatly wraps many details up while maintaining the intrigue and mystery by leaving some relatively unanswered as well. Although fans/victims of the lore and universe will know that many details and background interests have been added in the years since- comic books, graphic novels, a film sequel and more, the best part about any zombie apocalypse (besides it being horrid to be stuck in) is that anything can happen.

The sixties, seventies, eighties, and even nineties all had their famous horror zombie flicks and we’d seen many tall tales come and go- Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead to name a few. We’ve even seen some surprisingly good films since- I Am Legend, The Crazies, Shaun of the Dead, and Dawn of the Dead (2004). 28 Days Later kicked all of this off however, and not just in the film industry. Prior to the reinvention of the classic zombie thriller-horror romp many considered the genre to be dead and buried like westerns and eighties action flicks. Afterwards however we’ve been treated to a resurgence in films, literature, and even gaming. Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising are two of the bigger franchises out there and they both prominently feature the zombie apocalypse in entirely different ways.

Not only is 28 Days Later a good film and a good example of what to do in terms of filming the zombie uprising, but it deserves its status as a cult classic because it is both a harrowing experience against WWZ-like zombies and it is a cinematic experience that should be appreciated to the fullest. The camera work in Danny Boyle’s zombie thriller is spectacular- both in the long pans across the desolate London horizon and the tense emotions elicited throughout every chase sequence and encounter. Although it reestablishes the now commonplace trope that humans are their own worst enemy even in the dead uprising, 28 Days Later focuses both on the visceral feelings and emotions of mankind in reaction to the dead and undead as well.

Although we’ve been treated to two feature-length films that tell pretty decent stories within their own version of the zombie apocalypse, I’m really excited for what the future might hold for a series such as 28 ___ Later especially in the wake of the immense success of shows such as The Walking Dead (and the Kirkman comics). I would love nothing more than to see yet another quality zombie game released set in a similarly dark and gritty world to the films and perhaps even set within the same universe and utilizing some of the abundant lore as well. So far we’ve been given Zombi (originally for Wii U) which is probably the closest we’ve yet come to a fully realized and detailed experience in the vein of 28 Days Later, and that game was decent for what it offered in interesting gimmicks and mechanics.

I’m doing my best not to really spoil the great narrative even though it’s probably considered a bit cliche nowadays- not at the time, considering it is what so many movies now base themselves off of it seems. Not only is it a fully worthwhile and fundamental stroke of genius in terms of storytelling and cinematography, the acting itself is pretty spot on and the relatively unknown actors (besides Brendan Gleeson and Chris Eccleston) sell their roles perfectly. The 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead may be one of the most recognizable and pretty decent zombie films of the early 2000s, but let’s not forget the fact that 28 Days Later started things off right and paved the way not only for the shambling dead but the night-roaming mutants of I Am Legend as well. All things said and done, Boyle’s film would’ve also been fine without a sequel but expanding the 28 universe hasn’t been the worst idea either.

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