Those feverish for the follow-up to Danny Boyle’s immensely successful revisionist horror film 28 Days Later will get their cake and eat it too on May 11th when Fox Atomic releases the anticipated, and aptly titled, 28 Weeks Later. This writer was granted “Atomic” clearance to view 28 minutes of the sequel’s opening under the pretense that what was shown was still in its rough stages – which it was, clues being the “property of” visual burns and the wall-to-wall temp music, some taken from the soundtrack of its predecessor, to set the tone.
What was seen was nothing short of a promising start as we’re introduced to Don, played by Robert Carlyle, a man fortified within a country home living with other “survivors” of the first film’s viral “rage” outbreak. You get the sense these survivors have adapted to a new pattern of living (by candlelight, hushed tones) and know the do’s and don’ts of avoiding/attracting outside “infected” attention which is readily apparent when an orphan arrives on Don’s doorstep thus compromising the shelter. During this time, director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo sustains an optimum sense of heightened frenzy and confusion – via a handheld camera throughout – maintaining that the bloodied, gore-spewing infected are a still a force to be reckoned with.
And with this introduction Fresnadillo will not only rattle the newcomers to the 28 Days Later universe but will have successfully reacquainted its fans to a whole new chapter with a ferocious start. More importantly, he roots his narrative in emotional complexity from the get-go (how the script does so is a spoiler, so just trust us) which is further supported when we meet up with Don 28 weeks after the initial infection. England’s Isle of Dogs is being repopulated thanks to the U.S. army – the infected have all but starved to death and it’s high time for London to be re-built.
Unlike the first film’s haunting visions of isolation and desolate streets, Fresnadillo switches gears offering us images of bittersweet hope – some shots ringing eerily familiar to those that have played on our television post-Hurricane Katrina. Soldiers line the streets. Clean-up bags and burning rubble clog avenues. Pleas for help painted on rooftops from residents long gone are sandblasted away. All of this comes with a palpable air of melancholy. But, amidst the steady flow of progress we meet Don’s kids, flown in to be reacquainted with their father much to the chagrin of a cautious military nurse (Rose Byrne) who believes the “new” London isn’t ready to be populated by children just yet. Then we get a few introductory moments with Jeremy Renner’s Sgt. Doyle, a trigger-happy sniper – there’s very little connection with him, although he plays a much larger role, we’re told, through the rest of the film.
As quickly as the footage started, it fades out leaving many questions and an eager curiosity for more. With the audience empathy for Don grounded, what terrors are in store for him and his kids?
Fresnadillo, it’s obvious, is eager to work on a larger canvas, however, he has easily adopted the visual language of 28 Days Later making the transition from that film to this one an effortless task. Carlyle sells his emotional plight and, thankfully, child actors Mackintosh Muggleton and Imogen Poots are unobtrusive factors (so far). Overall, an affecting, yet unsettling, exploration to Boyle’s world…
Keep your eyes peeled for plenty of coverage of this forthcoming chapter once ComingSoon.net launches its horror arm, ShockTillYouDrop.com, in just a matter of weeks!