No 454 - 28 Days Later
Director - Danny Boyle
So, somewhere in the cruel laboratories of Cambridge Sylvester Stuart is Clockwork Orange-ing chimps for some reason (seriously... what is the experiment?) and the activists are not happy. Thusly they release the rage infected monkeys and all the shit goes down.
So begins this amazing little apocalypto-drama. For all the visceral introduction, cut editing, strobey lights and salivating primates, the post title moments are wonderfully still and quiet. Cillian Murphy (beautiful face wild wild eyes) plays Jim who wakes up naked in an isolated hospital. Looking at his hair he either had some kind of head surgery or he is a trendy Shoreditch wanker.
What appears to have happened is that Jim has woken up in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse (even though they're Rage infected.... and not zombies) - this fact is beautifully portrayed by shots of Jim walking through abandoned London. I know this has been done in America with I Am Legend and Vanilla Sky - but I'm a Londoner, and there is something truly haunting in seeing my local landmarks empty. It is haunting. It is unnatural. The scene in which Eros has been turned into a noticeboard is particularly gut wrenching. With no words and only one person, Danny Boyle has shown true despair.
Jim's confused questions are answered as he joins a rag tag group of survivors including Tia Dalma and Mad Eye Moody and the film, for a brief middle moment, becomes a bit Standard Zombie Survival film. Complete with all the cliches of driving into tunnels and splitting up and shit.
Where the film really picks up is when our protagonists meet up with Christopher Eccleston military gang. Featuring such luminaries as The Sweaty Suiter from Alice in Wonderland and Ronny From Eastenders. Here we face the truth that actually, the depths people are willing to go for survival can be just as scary, if not more scary, than the slathering disease riddled hordes. It is either that or the military are cunts. That could be the moral.
So a series of events occur within the human camp which feature murders and threats and lots of implied rape... this makes Jim go mad. You might say he gets in a bit of a Rage.
In fact, what is so great about this is that in those final scenes there really isn't much difference between the film's hero and the monsters which have been the scary villains. Cillian Murphy already has scarily wild eyes, and he can really portrayed the desperate man who's sanity has pretty much cracked. his actions are questionable and extreme - but he has been pushed to breaking point over a traumatic few days and left to die several times. You can kind of understand why he has decided to lay some serious smack down.
Cue some violent vigilante action as the military are taken down by a lone topless man with nothing to lose. The sequence is tense, at times horrific and frequently, oddly, beautiful (in how it is shot and that) - mainly down to the score.
In the House, In a Heartbeat by John Murphy is a masterful piece of music - it manages to take the intensity of the scene and build on the tension, layering the musical parts until it is almost unbearable, before finally dropping into a wild and distorted cacophony.
It is one of the best pieces of modern scoring and it is only a shame that John Murphy seems so content to whore it out on every film he scores.
What I love about this film is that it changes enough to keep you from getting bored... and that it does tell you a truly bleak story in which no one is really a nice person. There is even a little happy ending to try and cancel out the visceral intensity of the previous scenes.
It kind of works.
But I prefer the bleak ending of 28 Weeks Later (even though it is a weaker film)