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Heroes of the Zeroes: 28 Days Later …

by on January 6, 2010
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The Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films from 2000 to 2009.

“28 Days Later … ”
Rated R

Danny Boyle’s 2002 virus flick was a truly terrifying fright machine, pushing forth scream-and-jump fun. It also offered a human resonance that lingered with the scares and a grim, beautiful blurriness courtesy of its digitally shot picture.

Working with screenwriter Alex Garland, Boyle cut a chilling swath through the “it can’t happen here” notion of pandemic infection — in this case, a “rage virus” transferred, bloodily, from monkeys to humans.

That creates fast-running flesh-cravers (purists might debate terming them “zombies”) who sprint and leap after their prey, but the humans aren’t dumb fodder. Boyle astonishingly mixes shock-tactic scares with introspection about human comforts to which we cling, whether it’s crème de menthe or a cheeseburger.

There are furious attack scenes — including a London-street firebombing and a close call in a dark apartment staircase. But a discovery at one character’s home effects the mood with quietude, and because of the infection’s quick nature — and that there are no big stars — we don’t know who will be killed when in as quick a shock to the viewer as it is to the characters.

Reminiscent of “Apocalypse Now” as a hallucinatory, bombed-out hell hosting uncertain travels, “28 Days Later …” similarly played itself out at a military encampment where lunacy prevails. Whatever steam it lost during this ho-hum spook-house run didn’t completely slow the film. In a film better than “Slumdog Millionaire,” Boyle envisioned hope, remembrance, sadness and loss — in other words, everything napalmed right out of the lackluster sequel, “28 Weeks Later.”