28 Days Later DVD Review
Written by Daniel Benson
DVD released by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Danny Boyle
Written by Alex Garland
2002, Region 2 (PAL), 108 Minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on May 19th, 2013
Cillian Murphy as Jim
Naomie Harris as Selena
Megan Burns as Hannah
Brendan Gleeson as Frank
Christopher Eccleston as Maj. Henry West
Animal rights activists break into an animal research centre with the aim to release lab animals from their tormentors. During the raid, the activists are warned by a lab technician not to release the apes which are infected with 'rage'. They don't listen and suffer a frenzied attack from the freshly liberated primates. Fade to black...
Jim wakes up in hospital 28 Days Later. After detatching himself from the equipment he's hooked up to, and grabbing a doctor's gown to hide his modesty, he stumbles through the deserted building, puzzled and concerned that not a single person is around. As he leaves the hospital and wanders the eerily empty streets of London he begins to realise that all is not as it should be.
Jim meets up with Selina and Mark who rescue him when he is persued by infected citizens of the city. After explaining the epidemic of rage which destroyed the population, they find Jim's parents dead in their home from an overdose. They took the easy way out, rather than be victim to the infected. After a battle at the house Mark is killed and Selina and Jim have to make it on their own.
The pair of survivors see a signal from a tower block and meet up with another couple, Frank and his daughter Hannah who've heard a radio broadcast from Manchester telling them that the army has a stronghold with a solution to the plague.
The four set off on the journey north to try to find safety with the armed forces and meet Major Henry West and his men. The stately home they have taken over is strongly protected and they have food and hot running water. They even have a member of their squad infected with rage, chained up in the yard, to try to find a way round the disease.
Just as the survivors think they are safe, they begin to realise that the Major does not have their safety as his prime concern. Now they have to battle, not only a psychotically infected poulation, but also an armed and extremely dangerous army unit for survival.
I don't know if it's just because I'm a Brit, but this movie just seemed so real. Everything is familiar in a way that it isn't with the Hollywood productions. This makes for a movie which I found genuinely quite disturbing.The decision to go with non-name actors for this production helps immensely with the sense of realism, it just wouldn't have worked so well with famous faces.
To all intents and purposes, this is a low budget movie. Shot on digital video, which adds to its raw edge and gives it an almost documentary like feel. The scenes where the infected attack are shot superbly with plenty of fast cuts and motion making them extremely frenetic and vicious. Also the idea of 'rage' being a disease is a pretty cool theme to run through the story.
A few people who saw this commented that they thought it got a little silly at the point where the survivors hook up with the soldiers, but I didn't see it that way. The only thing I found hard to believe was that Major West, a highly trained military mind, had managed to lose the plot whereas the civilian survivors were holding it together just fine. I don't want to go to much into detail about the plot, as it may spoil it for those who haven't yet seen it.
An excellent movie, but not your archetypal zombie movie as the previews might lead you to believe. The infected either kill or infect others, there's no coming back to life after you're killed in the traditional zombie way. There are also a few scenes which suggest a nod toward other genre favourites; The opening hospital scene is very similar to the closing scenes of Resident Evil, the stop for fuel and the supermarket shopping (Dawn of the Dead) and the chained up infected (Bub, Day of the Dead). Whether these are intentional I don't know, but I couldn't help making the comparison. Hell, the fuel stop even has a child assailant like Dawn. This is a must see for any horror fan.
Video and Audio:
The picture is a little washed out, probably due to the DV source, but a good transfer nonetheless. The pale colours give the film character. It's presented in 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
A 5.1 surround track which is well balanced. A crescendo of noise is used during the attack scenes to make them feel more brutal. Some of the soundtrack is really emotive, using subtle music to build tension or set the mood.
- Commentary by writer Alex Garland and Director Danny Boyle
- 8 Deleted Scenes with optional commentary
- Alternative Ending
- Radical Alternative Ending told by storyboards, voiced by Garland and Boyle
- Pure Rage : The Making of 28 Days Later
- Jacknife Lee Music Video
- Still and Polaroid Gallery with Commentary
- Animated Story Board
- Teaser & Theatrical Trailers
The extras are great on this disc, and Director Danny Boyle has gone to great lengths to add commentray to as many features as possible. I thought his commentary over the stills gallery was a nice touch as quite often, stills galleries can be somewhat dull. My only criticism of the extras is the quality. Some bad pixellation during the deleted scenes - if I'd wanted VCD picture quality I'd have bought a VCD player. What is more annoying is there's a full 1GB of spare space which could've been used to up the resolution of these scenes.