Horror Review: 28 Days Later (2002)

Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.

First of all I’d like to get something straight, this is NOT a zombie film! If you still think it is then read the 1st sentence again, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve had this discussion. Now that fact is sorted lets get on with the film itself.

For those eagle eyed Horror fans among us, you will notice that the beginning of this film is very much similar to the beginning of “The Walking Dead”, before more arguments break out, neither stole it from each other, it’s an opening that has been used a-lot and is very effective, infact according to script writer Alex Garland it’s a homage to “The Day of the Triffids”.

“28 Days Later” is a film, that in my opinion, put British Horror back on the map. That’s not to say that the other releases were bad, on the contrary, there have been some AMAZING releases, this one just managed to put British Horror back where it belonged.

The whole plot line to this story is truly a great one, also the way it’s paced out gels so well with the characters and the story of the film. As with all films like this it’s a fight for survival, but one thing I enjoy is there is so many ways you could play this out with any character that it will be a long time before it gets old.

The casting for this film was top notch and they truly make you feel the danger is real, the fact that you can sympathise with the whole group is a rare one. It is a roller coaster of a film and that isn’t a bad thing, oh no not at all. Your interest never drops, at some points you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat, maybe even screaming at the screen.

If you are one of the rare people out there who haven’t seen this film then I truly suggest you stop reading this now and go watch it!

To see the “28 Days Later” trailer click here


Miscellaneous fact about the film:

  • For the scenes in London, police would close the roads at 4am and filming would begin immediately. It would last for one hour, and at that time the police would reopen the roads. As well as having to deal with traffic, the producers also had to ask clubbers to find alternative routes home. In terms of the traffic, the producers correctly predicted that asking drivers to either wait for up to an hour or find another way might cause some considerable consternation. As such, they employed several extremely attractive young women (one of whom was Danny Boyle’s daughter) to make the necessary requests. This plan had the desired results, as the drivers responded quite amicably to the young girls. 
  • The hospital in the film is a real day hospital and is not open at weekends. The trust managers of the hospital hire out the building to filmmakers for weekends, and the productions pay the hospital directly, meaning the money from the filming goes directly to the trust fund of the hospital. 
  • The tower block where Hannah and her father lived was condemned and has now been demolished. 
  • The tunnel scene was filmed in a new tunnel extension which the film-makers had special permission to use. 
  • For the scenes on the motorway, the production got permission to shoot on the MI on a Sunday morning between 7.00am and 9.00am. The police gradually slowed traffic in both directions, and using 10 cameras, the film-makers managed to capture a total of one minute of usable footage. 
  • Christopher Eccleston and the other soldiers in the film had a three-day training programme with real soldiers to help them learn how to carry themselves believably. 
  • Horror novelist Stephen King bought out an entire showing of the film in New York City. 
  • The surnames of Jim, Selena, Mark, Frank, and Hannah are never revealed, either during the film or in the credits. Likewise, the names of Jim’s parents are never revealed. 
  • The Bible verse on the postcard that Jim is so interested in is from the Book of Nahum. Nahum was a prophet who predicted the destruction of the great city of Nineveh, the capital of the great, and at that time flourishing, Assyrian empire. It was to be utterly destroyed as a punishment for the great wickedness of its inhabitants. 
  • Scriptwriter Alex Garland acknowledges several sources as inspiration for his screenplay, notably John Wyndham’s “The Day of the Triffids”, George A. Romero’s “Dead” trilogy (Night, Dawn and Day) and The Omega Man. Direct homages include Jim waking up in the hospital from The Day of the Triffids, the chained infected being studied from Day of the Dead, and the scene in the grocery store (people in the mall from Dawn of the Dead), the stop for supplies that saw a run-in with infected children (also Dawn of the Dead (1978)), and the military holing up against the plague with outsiders partially to deliberately include females (also Day of the Dead). 
  • Robert Carlyle was offered the role of Major Henry West. 
  • A back-story was developed by director Danny Boyle and actress Naomie Harris to explain her character’s hard-natured, ruthlessly pragmatic outlook on life. Apparently, the character had been forced to kill her entire family in one afternoon, starting with her infected mother and father to save her baby brother, only to discover that her brother was also infected. 
  • The symbol used for this film is the international symbol for blood-borne biohazard. 
  • The word “fuck” is used 61 times throughout the whole film. 
  • All of the scenes in the mansion that involved upstairs rooms were filmed downstairs as the mansion’s owner lives upstairs. When Jim jumps in through the window in the roof, he is actually jumping through a hole in the corridor upstairs down to the ground floor with rain effects upstairs. 
  • The crew filed all of the necessary papers to destroy the petrol station in Canary Wharf, but the police were unintentionally not notified. When the explosives were detonated, police responded as if a petrol station had really exploded and sent fire brigades (although there was already one present). Danny Boyle finally resolved the manner after several hours. 
  • Funded by the British Film Council, which in itself is funded by the National Lottery. As a result of this, there are prominent advertisements for the National Lottery throughout the film, for example in the newsagents near the beginning of the film and in the supermarket (in the background while Jim and Frank are discussing whisky). 
  • Alex Garland and Danny Boyle did a great deal of research into social unrest, drawing ideas from things that had happened in Rwanda and Sierra Leone (such as the piling of bodies inside churches), but drew the line at using any actual footage from such incidents in the opening montage. All footage featuring dead bodies/desecration of bodies was faked. 
  • Ewan McGregor was the original choice to play Jim. After that didn’t work out, the role was offered to Ryan Gosling, but although he was interested, he could not commit due to a scheduling conflict. 
  • The angelic song that plays in the background, particularly during the car trip, is called “In Paradisum” by Gabriel Fauré
  • The ‘design’ for the symptoms of Rage was based on Ebola, which is communicable in all primates (including humans), and is transmitted through the blood. Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever which leads to a rash, red eyes and both internal and external bleeding. Indeed, in 28 Days Later: The Aftermath (a graphic novel set between 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, it is explained that the Ebola virus was being used by the scientists as a carrier for the inhibitor which mutated into Rage. 
  • The shot of the notice board at Piccadilly Circus, with the missing persons flyers, created a degree of controversy when the filmed was first shown, with some saying it was insensitive to what was happening in New York after the 9/11 attacks. However, the film was shot prior to 9/11, although it was released after it. In any case, Danny Boyle has stated that he based the shot on a photograph he had seen from an earthquake in China, but he also acknowledges that had he made the movie post 9/11, he would not have shot the scene. 
  • The film was shot almost entirely in sequence; only pickups and a few reshoots were shot out of sequence. 
  • Athletes were cast as the Infected because of how important physicality is to them.Danny Boyle felt that generally, athletes can do things other people can’t, and he thought this would be interesting when translated into the movements of the Infected. 
  • The scene where Jim, Selena and Mark shelter from the explosion by hiding between the windows was based upon a photo Danny Boyle had seen of a bomb blast in Northern Ireland. 
  • The scene where Jim and Selena celebrate with Frank and Hannah was shot on September 11. Danny Boyle has said it felt extremely strange to be shooting a celebratory scene on that particular day. 

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