Films

Published on May 26th, 2006 | by admin

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28 Days Later

By Melanie Sheridan

Infectious death is scarier than just about anything. A million yawping terrorists swearing violent death from above on infidel pigs (and the nations stupid enough to vote in governments that engage in political man-love with infidel pigs) ain’t got nothing on epidemic pestilence. And the idea of virulent pathogenic emotion, such as infectious rage, is as scary as it gets.

Danny Boyle’s all too realistic yet slightly sci-fi ‘zombie’ thriller 28 Days Later, posing the idea of just such a psychogenic pathogen, is just about the most relentlessly creepy film since The Day of the Triffids, which was made in a time when contagion was presumed less likely than Alien Invasion!

Obviously inspired by that film, 28 Days Later raises all sorts of philosophical questions about the inherent violence in human nature, primarily that our tendency towards rage could be – or become – a nasty illness; and as such even those uninfected may eventually become indistinguishable from the infected, simply because rage is present in everybody. To paraphrase the main character, Jim, this film is a really great idea. You know why? Because it’s really obviously a great idea.

It’s also beautiful: beautifully shot on digital video; carried by the most beautiful man in the world, Irish actor Cillian Murphy as Jim; beautifully crafted, and beautifully effective. The scenes of a deserted London are astonishing; and just look at that light! Obviously paying homage to films such as the aforementioned Day of the Triffids, along with Day of the Dead and The Omega Man, Scriptwriter Alex Garland (The Beach) and Boyle did a lot of research into social unrest, drawing ideas from Rwanda and Sierra Leone, and lucked out on the timing with the SARS epidemic driving home the sense of panic and loss of control suggested by the film.

They reveal these details – and many, many more – in their audio commentary provided in the bonus features on the superb 28 Days Later DVD, for the film as well as for the alternative endings, deleted scenes and production and polaroid galleries. The commentary for these galleries is a novel and insightful addition to what is often a Christmas present of DVDs (fun when first looked at, but boring from then on and never picked up again).

Other bonus material includes the mildly diverting Jacknife Lee music video and animated storyboards from the original UK website, and the half-hour featurette Pure Rage: The Making of 28 Days Later, which is more about the factual threat of infectious disease than it is about the making of the film; at least until you get to the multiple bloody vomit options provided by props and makeup! And let’s not forget the theatrical trailers and teasers, language options and other standard fare. It all makes for one supremely value-added DVD, eternally watchable (once you get past the “it’s too scary, I can’t watch any more” phase) and extremely ownable.


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