Days letter in my opinion is one of the best zombie films that has been produced in my generation and revalidated the Zombie genre. This is one of my favorites because of its intriguing story line and a great acting performance by all characters. 28 days later provides a plethora of horror engineering, social attitudes, as well as social critique. Released in 2002, 28 Days later draws its viewers in right from the start. At the beginning of the film we see a group of PETA extremists breaking into what seems to be an animal testing facility.
This group of people who are breaking into the facility to free a group of monkeys who are being used as science experiments and being injected with what is called the “Rage” virus. As the group goes to break the monkeys out of their fiberglass cages, a scientist who works at the facility catches them in the act. Here is where us viewers are first introduced (briefly) to the rage virus. The scientist warns them that the monkeys are infected with Rage and that what they are doing is extremely dangerous.
The scientist begs them not to open the cages but ultimately they end up doing it anyway. The female in the group opens the cage and the infected monkey runs out and attacks the group where the virus first begins to spread. The rest of the film shows Jim as he embarks on his journey though post-apocalyptic London. Jim wakes up naked in a hospital bed where he has no idea where he is. After he detaches all of the hoses and wires from his body he ventures out into the rest of the hospital where he discovers that something is right.
Later in the film Jim runs into a few more survivors and rest of the film shows them making the trip to a military stronghold that they heard about on a radio broadcast. 8 Days later is without a doubt a film that revalidated the zombie genre. While the zombies in this film aren’t what the type of zombie fans are used to seeing, this film is still extremely terrifying! 28 Days Later employs horror engineering techniques to add to the mass amounts of “scariness” that already exists throughout the film. The first horror engineering technique that is used throughout this film is formlessness.
Formlessness is focusing a little more on the creatures appearances throughout horror films. In this case formlessness is employed to make these flesh hungry zombies even scarier than they already are. The zombies in 28 Days later are extremely terrifying not only because they want to eat the uninfected’ flesh but mainly because of their appearance. Like I said before, the zombies in this film aren’t like zombies fans of this genre are used to seeing. They are dirty, they are deformed, and they are fast… Really fast.
When these zombies are chasing their prey, they sprint fast as lightning and their arms sway in a fluid motion. This is a small detail that adds massive amounts of horror into the film. There is Just something about these zombie’s fluid body motions that makes them so scary. Another horror engineering technique that was employed frequently throughout the film is mastication. The concept of Mastication is the creature in the specific film involving swarms, crowding, and teeming to overrun anyone that is not infected with the rage virus.
Just about every there is a scene with zombies in it (aside from the one that’s chained up) there is an extremely large number of them that require the uninfected to take immediate action. The zombies in this film are already scary enough, but with a group of at least 20 of them chasing after Selene, Jim and the others in the group of uninfected. One scene in particular that is absolutely petrifying is when the Jim and co. Car breaks down in the traffic tunnel. As the tire is being changed we see tunnel rats running in a group the opposite direction.
Soon after that Jim notices the silhouettes of the zombies’ shadows on the tunnel walls running in their direction. Things don’t seem too alarming at first but when the zombies come in sight there is more than a few of them, there is a group of 20+ zombies in an all-out sprint running toward them. Luckily the group barely escapes but, that scene alone was enough to get viewers blood pumping! Mastication makes this film even scarier than it already is, because one of these zombies alone is scary enough let alone a group of 20 or more!
In this film there are also social attitudes that are present. One of the more prominent social attitudes that are present in this film is the views on modern bio power. In the beginning of the film we see the infected test subjects that happen to be monkeys. It is unknown why the monkeys are infected with the rage virus in the first place but it seems as if scientists were trying to come up with up with a cure for the rage virus where the experiment looked to be ailing because of all of the test subjects that were present in the lab. 8 Days Later has a negative view to this modern borrower that is being used. It seems Danny Bayle and Alex Garland (Director and Writer) were trying to send a message that the modern evolution of borrower can be risky business if we aren’t careful. 28 Days later was a clear depiction of what life would be like if the use of borrower wasn’t carefully handled. In the case of the film scientists were not careful because of the way a small group of PETA enthusiasts were able to sneak into the science facility and let the rage iris lose.
It would be extremely difficult to imagine Danny Bayle and Alex Garland directing and writing a movie where modern borrower is a raging success, probably because it would be difficult for borrower to have that type of outcome. Other social views that are in this film are the shifting attitudes towards gender. One of the first characters that are met in this film happens to be an African British female by the name of Selene. She and another male are the first two people that Jim meets right when he gets out of the hospital and begins to wander the streets of London.
For the iris half of the film, there is a positive social attitude towards females. Selene is a walking zombie killing machine and is extremely knowledge on how to take care of her self in post-apocalyptic times. In other words she is a complete bedaubs! Selene even teaches Jim a few things such as after the first time they are attacked together she asks Jim if he got zombie blood in his eyes or mouth. Selene then proceeds to tell Jim that if someone is bitten then you only have a short period of time to kill that person before they turn. Selene shows Jim her ways and even saves his ass every once and a while.
The positive views towards the females in the film are apparent and wouldn’t be surprised if female viewers were to shout muff Go Girl” a few times throughout the movie! To contrast, these positive views kind of disappear in the second half of the film. As the group makes it to the military stronghold the Major Henry West informs Jim that he had promised all of his men women if they were to send out a radio broadcast about their location. After Jim is informed is when things shift downwards in terms of social attitudes towards female at least for this part of the film.
It is night and day when comparing the views towards females from the first half of the film to the second. In the first half Selene is a zombie killer with a ton of different skills that she uses in order to survive. In the second half Selene and Hanna are nothing but sex dolls for the soldiers at the strong hold to play with. The soldiers begin to harass and inappropriately touch Selene and Hanna to the point where zombies aren’t the only things they should be afraid of anymore. At one point the horny soldiers think it would be a good idea to get Selene and Hannah all dressed up n extravagant dresses to make them look even more appealing.
Hannah and Galena’s stay at the makeshift military base is not a pleasant one to say the least. 28 Days Later also does a fantastic Job at illustrating what life would be like after society has failed. At the very beginning of the film we see one of the test subjects being shown montages of global disaster and conflict. It seems that the film was trying to send us a message, and that message was if we as a society keep on the same track then the ending could be a disaster and something to similar to 28 Days later could become a reality.
Some perspectives could see this opening scene as humanity being the tied up monkey watching these tragic events happen before our eyes and then facing death from the rage virus. 28 Days Later at the time was a misunderstood masterpiece where over time it has shifted into a classic film that revalidated the zombie genre. 28 Days Later will without a doubt go down as a classic film as it perfectly summed up how crazy our society is and what it could become if we aren’t careful. Danny Bayle and Alex Garland did a fantastic Job at putting this film together making it one of the best and most recognizable zombie films of my generation!
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