This film is modern in style and most of it's story, although it could be based on a twisted Homeric Odyssey. If you know nothing about the movie, you may want to skip this review if you plan on seeing the movie.
The film opens in a vivisection lab. Chimps are being studied, but a well equipped and well intentioned team is breaking into the lab to free these animals. Little do they know that this lab has been studying a gruesome (manufactured?) disease, known only as "rage". Highly infectious, the chimps pass the disease to their human rescue team.
Those infected with the rage appear to lose all of their human qualities. They can no longer communicate, nor do they recall any of their past. The infected resort to infecting others and travelling by foot in packs. Apparently the virus is so potent, that the hosts have no interest in their own surrvival, just the spread of the disease. It is also so well adapted to it's new human hosts that it can spread through blood contact and completely control the person with 20 to 30 seconds.
The movie does well in suspending belief. In spite of the fragile disease foundation, as a viewer, I was intrigued.
28 days after the break in, our protagonist wakes up from his coma. Jim is understandably confused and disoriented when he wakes up in the hospital. His journey is just beginning. He meets up with the first round of infected armies in a church. Beginning a protracted "chase" movie, the zombie like foes are always tracking the uninfected. Jim runs into two of the uninfected who spend a good deal of time bringing Jim (and most of the audience) up to speed with the story.
Obviously, being only one of a theoretical handful of survivors brings its own tension. Jim is forced into trusting people he has never known and must also be able to turn on these same people if they become infected. As Jim's journey continues, he meets more of the infected and the uninfected and is forced into many decisions.
Thankfully, this movie relies on a couple of devices that keep the action going forward and not allowing the audience to think back about the plausability of what we have just seen. Like most good horror films, we don't examine the infected with the camera in long, scare-minimizing ways. They move quickly and the camera edits them in an out of the scene with short, distracted shots. Also, the infected are killable. They have no super power that stretches our belief. They do not get stronger or grow resistant to bullets. This keeps the threat real in the movie. Finally, with only 20 to 30 seconds before the virus consumes you, there are no infected traitors in the movie. It's just the rapid choices that have to be made between those with the rage and those uninfected. I appreciate these choices as it kept the movie on a quick pace and didn't allow me to question choices.
Part of the style of this movie is to show the isolation and emptiness that our protagonists must battle in addition to the groups of infected people. However, this isn't enough to carry the story and by the third act, we know that our group is going to survive. It is disappointing that the more logical conclusions could have played themselves out - on an island, there would likely be no survivors.
The cinematography is grainy and often over-exposed. Much of the movie is shot without stedi-cam and on digital video. The 'special effects' are both hyper-realistic and cartoonish. There are numerous scene edits and different camera angles that work in combination with the soundtrack to build the film's emotion. Props for using Godspeed You Black Emperor. "East Hastings" is a great tune for Jim's early, building disorientation in disserted London.
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