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RED EYES? BANG… GOODBYE!

When “28 Days Later…” was unleashed in 2002, it was a welcome onslaught on the slow-moving, stiff-walking genre of zombie movies. The film is deliriously infected with urgent realism; bloody thanks to its director (Danny Boyle) and star (Cillian Murphy). Its sequel, “28 Weeks Later…” expectedly lacks the novelty, but tries to compensate in a more rigorous setting.

28 weeks later, the zombie-virus has been somewhat contained; the survivors are safely trapped in an American-military-guarded zone. As soon as the crazy-red-eyes epidemic finds its way in (via a human Trojan horse), the civilians have difficulty escaping their way out. The screenplay for “28 Weeks Later…” is a clumsy retreat from the original film’s step into realism. The sequel utilizes dramatic tone as if it’s enough to make a film grounded. The plot must be believable too. I was put-off by the portrayed security measures in the movie. For a so-called “safe” zone, the place is a death trap, designed for fast contamination. Consider a scene where people are herded into an enclosed room; the exits are blocked but the entrance, accessible to the infected man, is not. Just as unrealistic is the scene of a military man who idly stands after he’s set on fire. You’d think that a well-trained soldier would at least, roll on the ground, rather than wait to turn to dust.

Indeed, most characters in the movie are written as lifeless, lacking soul and going through the motions before they stop dead. The leading exception is Don (Robert Carlyle), a father who suffers from a coward’s guilt. During a zombie attack, he chose to flee fast rather free his wife from peril. Weeks later, when he recaps the tale to his kids Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) and Tammy (Imogen Poots), he severs his spineless, scurrying feat. In a dramatic sense, Don is a compelling character; his children, however, are not. While their low-number age makes you scared for them, sympathy for the youth has its limits. Should they get a free pass solely because they’re young? Honestly, I didn’t really care if they survive or not.

The last flaw I’d point out – and yes, I promise it’s the last one – is the uninspired dialogue. It ranges from yell-out typical (“We’re all fucked!”) to the duh-obvious (“When we got separated, I thought I lost you”). The movie works better when there’s no talking, when it’s more focused on the visuals. Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and cinematographer Enrique Chediak pull off an inventive, unnerving look for the film. They experiment with flickering lights, red lights, rays of flashlights, night vision, and darkness to produce scenes, which are manically frightening and claustrophobic. They’re first-rate, sanguineous horror that solidifies you in place. If only the movie had the zombie teeth to gnaw out the bad parts (characters, plot, and dialogue), we could have been exposed to a bloody great film.

Grade: B

CAST
Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne , Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Mackintosh Muggleton, Imogen Poots, Idris Elba, and Emily Beecham
Screenplay by
Rowan Joffe
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Jesús Olmo
Directed by
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Rated R for strong violence and gore, language and some sexuality/nudity
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