28 Days Later
28 Days Later is a 2002 British post-apocalyptic horror film directed by Danny Boyle, written by Alex Garland, and starring Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Megan Burns, and Brendan Gleeson. The plot depicts the breakdown of society following the accidental release of a highly contagious virus and focuses upon the struggle of four survivors (Murphy, Harris, Burns, and Gleeson) to cope with the destruction of the life they once knew while evading those infected by the virus.
|28 Days Later|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Danny Boyle|
|Produced by||Andrew Macdonald|
|Written by||Alex Garland|
|Music by||John Murphy|
|Cinematography||Anthony Dod Mantle|
|Edited by||Chris Gill|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Box office||$85 million|
Successful both commercially and critically, the film is credited with reinvigorating the zombie genre of horror film. The film spawned a 2007 sequel, 28 Weeks Later, a graphic novel titled 28 Days Later: The Aftermath, which expands on the timeline of the outbreak, and a 2009 comic book series titled 28 Days Later. In 2017 a poll of 150 actors, directors, writers, producers and critics for Time Out magazine ranked it the 97th best British film ever.
A highly contagious, rage-inducing virus is unleashed in Great Britain after a group of animal liberation activists attempt to free chimpanzees infected with the virus in Cambridge, spreading quickly among the populace and resulting in societal collapse. 28 days after the initial outbreak, bicycle courier Jim awakens from a coma in St Thomas' Hospital in London, where he discovers the city deserted. Wandering through London and finding signs of catastrophe, he is eventually attacked by humans infected by the virus, but rescued by survivors Selena and Mark. The two inform Jim about the virus, which is believed to have spread worldwide. At Jim's request, the group travels to his parents' house in Deptford, where he learns they committed suicide. That night, Mark is bitten during an infected attack and Selena kills him before he turns.
After leaving the house, Jim and Selena encounter cab driver Frank and his daughter Hannah at Balfron Tower. Frank informs Jim and Selena of a military broadcast offering protection to survivors at a blockade in Manchester and with supplies dwindling, he asks them to accompany him and Hannah to the blockade. The two accept and the group boards Frank's cab to Manchester, becoming close with each other during the trip. When they reach the blockade, however, they find it seemingly deserted and Frank is infected when a drop of blood falls into his eye. The soldiers arrive soon afterwards and kill Frank.
The remaining survivors are brought to a fortified mansion under the command of Major Henry West. However, the safety promised by the soldiers turns out to be false when West reveals to Jim that the broadcast was intended lure female survivors into sexual slavery to repopulate the world. Jim refuses to be complicit with the soldiers' plan and they attempt to execute him, but Jim escapes. After tricking West into leaving the mansion, Jim releases Private Mailer, an infected soldier kept chained for observation, resulting in the deaths of West's men. Jim, Selena, and Hannah attempt to leave in Frank's cab, but find West sitting in the backseat, who shoots Jim. Hannah retaliates by putting the cab in reverse, allowing Mailer to grab West through the rear window and kill him, and the three survivors escape from the mansion.
Another 28 days later, Jim recovers at a remote cottage, while the infected are shown dying of starvation. As a Finnish fighter jet flies overhead, Jim, Selena, and Hannah unfurl a huge cloth banner spelling the word "HELLO". The three survivors optimistically watch the jet as they hope it spotted them.
The DVD extras include three alternative endings, all of which conclude with Jim dying. Two were filmed, while the third, a more radical departure, was presented only in storyboards. On 25 July 2003, cinemas started showing the alternative ending after the film's credits.
Jim dies at the hospitalEdit
In this ending, after Jim is shot, Selena and Hannah still rush him to the deserted hospital, but the scene is extended. Selena, with Hannah's assistance, attempts to perform life-saving procedures but cannot revive Jim. Selena is heartbroken and Hannah, distraught, looks to her for guidance. Selena tells Hannah they will go on; they pick up their guns and walk away from Jim's lifeless body. Selena and Hannah, still dressed in ballgowns and fully armed, leave the hospital.
On the DVD commentary, Boyle and Garland explain that this was the original ending of the film's first cut, which was tested with preview audiences. It was rejected for seeming too bleak; the final exit from the hospital was intended to imply Selena and Hannah's survival, whereas test audiences felt the women were marching off to certain death. Boyle and Garland express a preference for this alternative ending, calling it the "true ending". They comment that this ending brought Jim full circle, as he starts and finishes the story in bed in a deserted hospital. This ending was added in the theatrical release of the film beginning on 25 July 2003, placed after the credits and prefaced with the words, "what if..."
The "Hospital Dream" ending is an extended version of the theatrical alternative ending, wherein Jim dies at the hospital. In the optional commentary the director states that this was the full version of the original ending. Jim dreams while unconscious and remembers the final moments on his bicycle before the crash. The footage cuts back and forth between the scene with Selena and Hannah trying to save his life, and the dream sequence. As he gets hit by a car in his flashback, he simultaneously dies on the operating table.
Rescue coda without JimEdit
This ending, for which only a rough edit was completed, is an alternative version of the potential rescue sequence shown at the very end of the released film. Here, the scenes are identical, except that this ending was intended to be placed after the first alternative ending wherein Jim dies, so he is absent. When Selena is sewing one of the banner letters in the cottage, she is seen facetiously talking to a chicken instead of Jim. Only Selena and Hannah are seen waving to the jet flying overhead in the final shots.
"Radical Alternative Ending"Edit
The "Radical Alternative Ending", rather than a bare ending, is a radically different development of the film from the midpoint; it was not filmed and is presented on the DVD as a series of illustrated storyboards with voiceovers by Boyle and Garland. When Frank is infected at the military blockade near Manchester, the soldiers do not enter the story. Instead, Jim, Selena, and Hannah are somehow able to restrain Frank, hoping they will find a cure for the virus nearby as suggested in the radio broadcast. They soon discover that the blockade had protected a large medical research complex, the same one featured in the first scene of the film where the virus was developed. Inside, the party is relieved to find a scientist barricaded inside a room with food and water. He will not open the door because he fears they will take his food, although he does admit that the "answer to infection is here". Unfortunately, he refuses to talk further because he does not want to create an emotional attachment to people who will soon be dead. After hours of failed attempts to break through the door or coax the man out, Jim eventually brings Hannah to the door and explains Frank's situation.
The scientist reluctantly tells them Frank can only be cured with a complete blood transfusion and supplies them with the equipment. After learning that he is the only match with Frank's blood type, Jim sacrifices himself so Frank can survive with his daughter. Just as his journey began, Jim is left alone in the abandoned medical facility, and Selena, Hannah and Frank move into the room with the scientist, as a horde of the infected breaches the complex. The computer monitors show death and destruction come to life around a thrashing, infected Jim, who is strapped to the same table as the chimp had been in the opening scene. Garland and Boyle explain that they conceived this ending to see what the film would be like if they did not expand the focus beyond the four survivors. They decided against it because the idea of a total blood replacement as a cure was not credible. Boyle said in the DVD commentary that it "didn't make much sense", since the film had already established that one drop of blood can infect a person. "What would we do? Drain him of blood and scrub his veins with bleach?"
- Cillian Murphy as Jim
- Naomie Harris as Selena
- Brendan Gleeson as Frank
- Megan Burns as Hannah
- Christopher Eccleston as Major Henry West
- Noah Huntley as Mark
- Stuart McQuarrie as Sergeant Farrell
- Ricci Harnett as Corporal Mitchell
- Leo Bill as Private Jones
- Luke Mably as Private Clifton
- Junior Laniyan as Private Bell
- Ray Panthaki as Private Bedford
- Sanjay Rambaruth as Private Davis
- Marvin Campbell as Private Mailer
Additionally, Alex Palmer, Bindu De Stoppani, and Jukka Hiltunen portray the animal liberation activists and David Schneider portrays the scientist. Christopher Dunne and Emma Hitching appear as Jim's parents. Toby Sedgwick plays the infected priest that Jim encounters.
On the DVD commentary, Boyle explains that, with the aim of preserving the suspension of disbelief, relatively unknown actors were cast in the film. Cillian Murphy had starred primarily in small independent films, while Naomie Harris had acted on British television as a child, and Megan Burns had only one previous film credit. However, Christopher Eccleston and Brendan Gleeson were well-known character actors.
After director Danny Boyle and producer Andrew Macdonald filmed an adaptation of Alex Garland's novel The Beach, Garland approached Macdonald about his concept for 28 Days Later. In an interview with Creative Screenwriting, Garland explained, "I said to him that I had an idea for a movie about running zombies. I wrote it and sent it to him and the two of us went backwards and forwards with it for a few drafts... At the point I was working on 28 Days Later I had a lot of zombie movies as well as video games like Resident Evil turning round in my head."
28 Days Later features scenes set in normally bustling parts of London such as Westminster Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, Horse Guards Parade and Oxford Street. To depict these locations as desolate, the film crew closed off sections of street for minutes at a time, usually in early morning before sunrise on Sundays and would have typically around 45 minutes after dawn, to shoot the locations devoid of traffic and members of the public – to minimise disruption. Portions of the film were shot on a Canon XL1 digital video camera. DV cameras are much smaller and more manoeuvrable than traditional film cameras, which would have been impractical on such brief shoots. The scenes of the M1 motorway devoid of traffic were also filmed within very limited time periods. A mobile police roadblock slowed traffic sufficiently, to leave a long section of carriageway empty while the scene was filmed. The section depicted in the film was filmed at Milton Keynes, nowhere near Manchester. For the London scene where Jim walks by the overturned double-decker bus, the film crew placed the bus on its side and removed it when the shot was finished, all within 20 minutes. Much of the filming took place prior to the 11 September attacks and in the audio commentary, Boyle notes the parallel between the "missing persons" flyers seen at the beginning of the film and similar flyers posted in New York City in the wake of the attacks. Boyle adds that his crew probably would not have been granted permission to close off Whitehall for filming after the terrorist attacks in New York. A clapperboard seen in one of the DVD extra features shows filming was still taking place on 8 October 2001.
The mansion used in the film was Trafalgar Park near Salisbury. Many rooms in the house, including the Cipriani-painted music room and the main hall, were filmed with minimal set decoration. The scenes occurring upstairs were filmed downstairs, as the mansion's owner resided upstairs. The old ruins used as the setting for an idyllic interlude in their journey to Manchester, were those of Waverley Abbey, Surrey. The end scenes of the film where Jim, Selena and Hannah are living in a rural cottage were filmed around Ennerdale in Cumbria. This reflects the motorway road signage in the film which indicates the trio heading north towards the Lake District National Park.
On the DVD commentary, Boyle and Garland frequently call it a post apocalypse and horror film, commenting on scenes that were quotation of George A. Romero's Dead trilogy. During the initial marketing of the film Boyle did try to distance the film from such labels. Boyle identified John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids as Garland's original inspiration for the story.
28 Days Later was a considerable success at the box office and became highly profitable on a budget of about £5 million. In the UK, it took in £6.1 million, while in the US it became a surprise hit, taking over $45 million despite a limited release at fewer than 1,500 screens across the country. The film garnered around $84.7 million worldwide.
Critical views of the film were very positive. Based on 225 reviews collected by the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 86% of critics gave 28 Days Later a positive review, with an average score of 7.4/10. The site's consensus reads: "Kinetically directed by Danny Boyle, 28 Days Later is both a terrifying zombie movie and a sharp political allegory." On Metacritic, the film received a rating of 73 (out of 100) based on 39 reviews.
Bravo awarded it the 100th spot on their list of The 100 Scariest Movie Moments with the commentators explaining that making the zombies move fast for the first time was a bright and effective idea.[when?] In 2007, Stylus Magazine named it the second best zombie movie of all time. The film also ranked at number 456 in Empire's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time. Bloody Disgusting ranked the film seventh in their list of the Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade, with the article saying "Zombie movie? Political allegory? Humanist drama? 28 Days Later is all of those things and more – a genuine work of art by a director at the top of his game. What's so amazing about the film is the way it so expertly balances scenes of white-knuckled, hell-for-leather horror with moments of intimate beauty."
- Best Horror Film (2003 U.S. Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films — Saturn Award)
- Best British Film (Empire Award)
- Danny Boyle (Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver)
- Best Director — Danny Boyle (International Fantasy Film Award)
- Best International Film — Danny Boyle (Narcisse Award)
- Best Breakthrough Performance — Naomie Harris (Black Reel)
- Best Cinematographer — Anthony Dod Mantle (European Film Award)
A heavily edited version of the track "East Hastings" by the post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor appears in the film, but the track is excluded from the soundtrack, because Boyle could only obtain the rights to use it in the film.
28 Days Later: The Soundtrack Album was released on 17 June 2003. A modified version of the soundtrack "In The House – In A Heartbeat" was used as the character Big Daddy's theme in the 2010 film Kick-Ass. The same song was played in the 2012 advertisement campaign of Louis Vuitton, L'Invitation au Voyage.
A sequel, 28 Weeks Later, was released on 11 May 2007. Danny Boyle and Alex Garland took producing roles alongside Andrew Macdonald. The plot revolves around the arrival of American troops about seven months after the incidents in the original film, attempting to revitalise a nearly desolate Britain. The cast for this sequel includes Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Imogen Poots, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Mackintosh Muggleton, and Idris Elba.
Fox Atomic Comics, in association with HarperCollins, released a graphic novel bridging the time gap between 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, titled 28 Days Later: The Aftermath, written by Steve Niles.
28 Days Later, a comic sequel also linking Days and Weeks and produced by Fox Atomic (until its demise) and Boom! Studios, began production in 2009. The series focuses on Selena and answers questions about her in the film and her sequel whereabouts.
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