’28 Days Later’ came from Netflix

The short summary:

Good horror, bad SF, Hollywood ending but not really zombies because bullets work.

Analysis behind cut, possible spoilers.

Obviously I’d heard a lot about this movie before seeing it. I’d been primed for a ‘zombie movie without the Z word’, but it’s clearly not. <geek>Zomibes are a part of Vodoo mythology, and they are passive undead slaves. Ghouls are from Arabian folklore, they are monsters, and they eat corpses. Romero combined the two in ‘Night of the Living Dead’.</geek> The ‘infected’ are still human, have lost their minds, but gained nothing in the process (see below).

It was clearly never meant as SF at all. The science in the movie… well, let’s be generous and say it works as allegory. The ‘infection’ didn’t come from outer space, and it didn’t come from supernatural forces, it’s something we humans made, or found and tried to tame. I favor the latter intrepretation.

It’s exactly the ‘we did this to ourselves’ element which makes the movie work as horror. I actually had a lot more sympathy for the military survivors than I thought I would. Eccleson’s character did what he had to do to keep his men alive. It’s foolish to say he was doing the ‘wrong’ thing because, by that time, there were no ‘right’ choices. Obviously, a ton of clearly wrong choices came before he was at that point but he wasn’t the one who made them. He made a point of finding out who Jim had had to kill so that he could identify with them (and they with him).

When the whole world turns evil, there are no ‘good guys’ any more. There’s just staying alive, and there’s no reason to do that, because there’s no hope that it’s ever going to turn back again. The ‘evil’ of the military survivors came about because they were trying to create a sense of hope, so that they could survive. This is truely the stuff of horror.

The ‘infected’ didn’t have any superhuman powers and abilities at all. Several times during the climax Jim demonstrated all the freaky speed and stealth that the infected did. His combat with the soldier who was about to rape Selena showed more brutality than the infected did, he was clearly intending to kill, the infected stopped fighting when their targets stopped moving. Everything which the infected were is something which even the gentlest (or, in Jim’s case, the weakest) human being has the potential to become. This is also the stuff of horror.

I liked the alternate endings better, if you combine B&C and forget about D altogether. I liked the imagery of Selena and Hannah fighting for Jim’s life at the same hospital he awoke in. I loved the scene with them walking down the hall together in their evening wear. I know the commentary said they intended there to be hope, but there was none because, in the scenario we are given, there was no survival unless there was rescue, and the odds of that seemed slim. Adding the second alternate ending on after that would have kept the cool imagery, but also showed us how rescue could happen. The dialogue with the rooster was only amusing because I’d seen the A ending, though.

A hard movie to watch, and not one I’m sure I want to see again, but it was good.

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