Wednesday, May 16, 2007

28 Weeks Later

A good horror movie can be scary, intense, thoughtful or even silly, but it can’t get away with being stupid. That’s the problem with “28 Weeks Later,” the unnecessary (of course) sequel to “28 Days Later,” which was a bout a fast spreading virus that turns England into a land teeming with vicious, ultraviolent loonies.

“28 Days Later” was an A-grade B-movie, but “28 Weeks Later” is a C-grade b-movie, the differences being the quality (or lack thereof) of the acting, the clearly low-budget, and the soundness of the premise, all of which add up to what looks like a movie that was scraped together in a week. It also brazenly rips off a handful of very recent movies, from George Romero’s “Land of the Dead” to Robert Rodriguez’s tongue in cheek “Planet Terror.”

It’s a shame, since it starts strong, with a small band of English countryside survivors suddenly, shockingly decimated down to one, but once it shift to London it stinks. The U.S. Army is allegedly in charge, but the movie makes it look like a force of a dozen folks securing the whole of London. A few planes filled of civilian folks are brought in to … repopulate? Work? It’s never clear, except that the movie needs more warm bodies to fuel another viral breakout. And then there are the inexplicable actions of the characters, made all the more confusing when they even bother to try and explain their actions. It’s the kind of movie that makes you yell and the screen in frustration, and to tell the truth, I was so alternately angry and bored that I almost walked out.

Those curious to see something like “28 Weeks Later” done right would be wise to check out Romero’s oft-overlooked “The Crazies,” a film whose premise is so strong it more than makes up for the terrible acting and low budget. In his movie, a virus courses through the Pittsburgh area, causing the victims to turn homicidal. Martial law is declared, but the result is that the non-infected population starts to panic, leading to the conundrum: who is infected-crazy and who is not?

“28 Weeks Later” would have been better exploring some sort of ambiguity, since its blood-spewing growling creatures are so easy to pick out you’d think its protagonists woudl have a better plan than, you know, fire bombing the whole of London. Followed by gassing London. Followed by going street to street with flame-throwers. I mean, the island is empty. The infected die after a few weeks. Why not just make sure the exits, as such, are blocked, and wait it out again? What is the goal of the U.S. presence? If this is meant to be an Iraq-era parable, we need more to gnaw on than just soldiers going “code red” kill-happy.

And so on. Makes no sense.


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