28 Days Later (DNA 2003, Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris)
Danny Boyle, the director of Trainspotting and Shallow Grave, teams up again with Alex Garland, the writer of The Beach, for apocalyptic horror film 28 Days Later, which has echoes of Day of the Triffids and Romero’s ‘Dead’ trilogy, while retaining a very British air. The preface of the film sees animal activists release monkeys from a research laboratory, little knowing they carry a fatal virus, the ‘rage’. Twenty-eight days later, bike courier Jim (Cillian Murphy) awakes from a traffic accident-induced coma to find London a deserted ruin, populated by maddened, blood-seeking undead.
Meeting up with the uninfected Selena, Mark, Frank and Hannah (Naomie Harris, Noah Huntley, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns), they set off in Frank’s taxi to Manchester, where a group of soldiers led by Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston) offer a safe haven. But after surviving the terrors of the journey, on arriving at the encampment, their troubles are just beginning…
Boyle shot the film on digital video, which not only gives it a gritty look, but meant that negotiations to close down parts of London and the M1 were easily concluded; he needed just minutes to shoot scenes of empty streets, bridges and motorways, adding weight to the disturbing scenes as the raving ‘rage’ victims, as satisfyingly horrific as anything Romero could imagine, confront the group. The film was part-funded by the British Film Council, which is in turn funded by the National Lottery; it’s an interesting aside to count the number of posters advertising the lottery seen throughout the film… Boyle and Garland are currently shooting the science-fiction thriller Sunshine.