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Friday
May112007

"28 Weeks Later" Review

The infected are back, and with them the core creative forces behind 28 Days Later , to offer a true rarity in the world of horror sequels, a film that nearly eclipses its predecessor on all counts.

While die-hard Boyle fans may initially dismiss this sequel due to the fact that the visionary director opted not to reprise his role at the helm, a quick glance at the credits reveals that not only did he remain onboard as executive producer, but the original producer, original screenwriter and even the original composer, whose swelling score effectively drives home the emotion of the smaller, quieter moments while seamlessly sweeping the viewer up in the action scenes, all saw fit to remain on board in order to keep the machine running smoothly. Throw into the mix a promising director and you have the perfect recipe for a sequel that impressively maintains the aesthetics and intimate feel of the original while subtly expanding on the mythology in a manner that, while impossible to discuss without resorting to spoilers, feels both fluid and organic.

Though this sequel has a handful of eyebrow-raising issues, the overall result is a thinking person's "zombie apocalypse" a flick that maintains an impressive emotional core while never losing sight of its genre roots.

The directors abilities may not yet be honed to the fine point that Boyle's were by the time he took on the infected, but he does display an impressive ability to conjure convincing performances from his players; Robert Carlyle in particular hits all the right notes as a survivor of the original outbreak whose fate is sealed by a particularly blameworthy act of cowardice. Whereas the director could be accused of relying too much on the eye-straining technique of camera jostling when things take a turn for the worse and the infection remerges, it's hard to argue that the technique doesn’t effectively convey the chaos that characters experience when trapped between trigger-happy snipers and teeth-gnashing zombies. Even when the technique is more restrained, however, the direction has the ability to make the viewer believe the situation is calm before pulling back to reveal that things aren't quite what they seem and it goes a long way in driving home the disorienting volatility of such an explosive scenario.

In terms of screenwriting, the story is full and rich and nicely balanced so it doesn’t bore us with re-visited details of the last film but gives us enough depth so newcomers to the Franchise can understand what is going on. This results in the creation of characters that are identifiable and sympathetic, and unrelentingly tense situations that truly fray the nerves.

In the end 28 Weeks Later is a film that's likely to be as polarizing for many viewers as its predecessor was due to its unique experimentation with genre standards. Weeks impressively expands on the ideas of Days while upping the scale and terror ante, and actually attempts to stimulate thought rather than insulting the viewer's intelligence, there's quite a bit to like about this vicious little screamer.

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