28 Days Later
|28 Days Later|
UK release poster
|Directed by||Danny Boyle|
|Produced by||Andrew Macdonald|
|Written by||Alex Garland|
|Music by||John Murphy|
|Cinematography||Anthony Dod Mantle|
|Editing by||Chris Gill|
British Film Council
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox (United Kingdom)
Fox Searchlight Pictures (United States)
|Running time||113 minutes|
|Box office||$82,719,885 or £52,833,190.55|
28 Days Later is a 2002 British horror film directed by Danny Boyle. The screenplay was written by Alex Garland. The film stars Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, and Christopher Eccleston. The plot depicts the breakdown of society following the accidental release of a highly contagious virus and focuses upon the struggle of four survivors to cope with the destruction of the life they once knew.
Successful both commercially and critically, the film is credited with reinvigorating the zombie sub-genre. The film spawned a 2007 sequel, 28 Weeks Later, a graphic novel titled 28 Days Later: The Aftermath, which expands on the timeline of the outbreak, and a 2009 comic book series 28 Days Later.
British animal liberation activists break into a laboratory in Cambridge. While trying to free some chimpanzees being used for medical research, they are interrupted by a scientist (David Schneider). Despite his desperate warnings that the chimps are infected with a virus dubbed "Rage," which he claims is highly contagious and only takes one bite to spread, the activists open the cages anyway and release the chimpanzees. A chimp attacks a female activist and immediately infects her, and she in turn infects the other members of the group, including the chief scientist when he attempts to kill her.
28 days later, a bicycle courier named Jim (Cillian Murphy) awakens from a coma in St Thomas' Hospital in London. He finds the hospital deserted and seemingly empty. He ventures out to discover the city completely deserted with signs of catastrophe everywhere. Jim then wanders into a seemingly abandoned church, only to alert a small group of Rage-infected people who were hiding there. As he tries to approach a priest who he then realises has also been infected, the 'Infected' spot him and try to attack him, giving chase. At the last minute, he is saved by Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley), who throw Molotov cocktails at Jim's pursuers, resulting in the explosion of a petrol station.
Afterwards, they rush him to their hideout in the London Underground. There, they reveal that while Jim was comatose from his accident, an unknown virus spread uncontrollably among the populace, turning most people into rabid, psychotic "infected," overwhelming the government and security services, resulting in societal collapse. It is a virulent, blood-borne virus that sends its hosts into a state of extreme rage. They also explain that infection has been reported in Paris and New York. The next morning, Selena and Mark accompany Jim to his parents' house where he discovers that they have committed suicide. That night, two of the infected see a candle Jim lights in the kitchen and attack. Mark is badly cut and covered in infected blood; Selena quickly kills him, later explaining to Jim that the Rage virus overwhelms its victims in no more than 20 seconds. This necessitates the immediate killing of people who may have been infected. She also assures him that, should he get infected, she would kill him "in a heartbeat." After leaving, they discover two more survivors, Frank (Brendan Gleeson) a cab driver, and his teenage daughter, Hannah (Megan Burns), holed up in a block of flats, and are invited to spend the rest of the night with them.
Frank informs them the next day that supplies, particularly water, are dwindling, and plays them a pre-recorded radio broadcast apparently transmitted by a military blockade near Manchester. The broadcast claims the soldiers have "the answer to infection" and invite any survivor to try to reach their safe haven. The survivors board Frank's cab in search of the signal source and during the trip bond with one another in various situations. When the four reach the deserted blockade, Frank is infected when a drop of blood from a dead body falls into his eye. As he succumbs, he is killed by the arriving soldiers, who then take the remaining group to a fortified mansion under the command of Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston).
After settling in the mansion, West promises the three protection from the infected. Jim learns that West's "answer to infection" involves waiting for the infected to starve to death, while at the same time trying to rebuild society by inviting other survivors of the virus. However, Jim eventually discovers that part of the "answer" also includes luring female survivors into sexual slavery to rebuild the population with West's platoon. Jim attempts to escape with Selena and Hannah, but is captured by the soldiers, along with a Sergeant Farrell (Stuart McQuarrie), who disagrees with the major's plan and tried to stop the other soldiers from imprisoning the group. During their imprisonment, Farrell theorizes that there is no worldwide pandemic, and that only Great Britain has been quarantined, which is proved when a NATO plane scouts the land.
The next day, Selena and Hannah are made to dress in evening wear and prepare for rape, as two soldiers lead Jim and Farrell to be executed. After his escorts quarrel after killing Farrell, Jim manages to escape. After luring West and one of his men to the blockade and ambushing them, Jim runs back to the mansion where he releases Mailer, an infected soldier whom West kept chained outside for observation. Mailer attacks the soldiers in the mansion, while Jim sets out to rescue the girls, who had been split up in the chaos. Selena, held hostage by Corporal Mitchell (Ricci Harnett), is then rescued by Jim, who arrives and savagely kills Mitchell with his bare hands. Selena mistakes Jim for an infected and raises her machete to kill him, but when she hesitates, Jim remarks, "That was longer than a heartbeat." The two kiss, reunite with Hannah, and run to Frank's cab, only to encounter a vengeful West, who shoots Jim in the stomach. Hannah commandeers the cab and backs it up to the front door, where Mailer drags West out through the smashed rear window and kills him. She then drives away with Jim and Selena.
Selena and Hannah rush Jim to a deserted hospital, where Selena performs life-saving emergency procedures, but to no avail, as he falls into the coma again. They take his body to the cab and leave Manchester.
28 days later, Jim is shown waking up in recovery again, this time at a remote cottage. Downstairs, he finds Selena sewing large swaths of fabric when Hannah appears. The three rush outside and unfurl a huge cloth banner, adding the final letter to the word "HELLO" laid out on the meadow. A lone Folland Gnat fighter jet with Finnish markings flies over the landscape. The jet flies over the three waving survivors and their distress sign while the pilot, speaking in Finnish, calls in a rescue helicopter. As it flies away Selena says with a smile, "Do you think they saw us this time?"
Alternative endings 
The DVD extras include three alternative endings, all of which conclude with Jim dying. Two were filmed, while the third, a more radical departure, was presented only in storyboards. On 25 July 2003, cinemas started showing the alternative ending after the film's credits.
Jim dies at the hospital 
In this ending, after Jim is shot, Selena and Hannah still rush him to the deserted hospital, but the scene is extended. Selena, with Hannah's assistance, attempts to perform life-saving procedures but cannot revive Jim. Selena is heartbroken, and Hannah, distraught, looks to her for guidance. Selena tells Hannah that they will go on; they pick up their guns and walk away from Jim's lifeless body. Selena and Hannah, still dressed in ballgowns and fully armed, walk through the operating room doors, which gradually stop swinging.
On the DVD commentary, Boyle and Garland explain that this was the original ending of the film's first cut, which was tested with preview audiences. It was rejected for seeming too bleak; the final exit from the hospital was intended to imply Selena and Hannah's survival, whereas test audiences felt that the women were marching off to certain death. Boyle and Garland express a preference for this alternative ending, calling it the "true ending." They comment that this ending brought Jim full circle, as he starts and finishes the story in bed in a deserted hospital. This ending was added in the theatrical release of the film beginning on 25 July 2003, placed after the credits and prefaced with the words "what if..."
Rescue coda without Jim 
This ending, for which only a rough edit was completed, is an alternative version of the potential rescue sequence shown at the very end of the released film. Here, the scenes are identical, except that this ending was intended to be placed after the first alternative ending where Jim dies, so he is absent. When Selena is sewing one of the banner letters in the cottage, she is seen facetiously talking to a chicken instead of Jim. Only Selena and Hannah are seen waving to the jet flying overhead in the final shots.
"Radical Alternative Ending" 
The "Radical Alternative Ending", rather than a bare ending, is a radically different development of the movie from the midpoint onwards; it was not filmed and is presented on the DVD as a series of illustrated storyboards with voiceovers by Boyle and Garland. When Frank is infected at the military blockade near Manchester, the soldiers do not enter the story. Instead, Jim, Selena and Hannah are somehow able to restrain the infected Frank, hoping they will find a cure for the virus nearby as suggested in the radio broadcast. They soon discover that the blockade had protected a large medical research complex, the same one featured in the first scene of the film where the virus was developed. Inside, the party is relieved to find a scientist self-barricaded inside a room with food and water. He will not open the door because he fears they will take his food, although he does admit that the "answer to infection is here". Unfortunately, he refuses to talk further because he does not want to make an emotional attachment to people who will soon be dead. After hours of failed attempts to break through the door or coax the man out, Jim eventually brings Hannah to the door and explains Frank's situation. The scientist reluctantly tells them that Frank can only be cured with a complete blood transfusion, and supplies them with the necessary equipment. After learning that he is the only match with Frank's blood type, Jim sacrifices himself so that Frank can survive with his daughter. Just as his journey began, Jim is left alone in the abandoned medical facility, and Selena, Hannah and Frank move into the room with the scientist as a horde of the infected breach the complex. The computer monitors show death and destruction come to life around a thrashing, infected Jim, who is strapped to the same table as the chimp had been in the opening scene.
Garland and Boyle explain that they conceived this ending to see what the film would be like if they did not expand the focus beyond the four core survivors. They decided against it because the idea of a total blood replacement as a cure was not credible. As Boyle said in the DVD commentary, it "didn't make much sense" since the film had already established that one drop of blood can infect a person. "What would we do? Drain him of blood and scrub his veins with bleach?!"
"Hospital Dream" 
The "Hospital Dream" ending is an extended version of the theatrical alternative ending where Jim dies at the hospital. It is revealed by the director during the optional commentary that this was the full version of the original ending. Jim dreams while unconscious and remembers the final moments on his bicycle before the crash. The footage cuts back and forth between the scene with Selena and Hannah trying to save his life and the dream sequence. As he gets hit by a car in his flashback, he simultaneously dies on the operating table.
- Cillian Murphy as Jim
- Naomie Harris as Selena
- Brendan Gleeson as Frank
- Christopher Eccleston as Major Henry West
- Megan Burns as Hannah
- Noah Huntley as Mark
- Stuart McQuarrie as Sergeant Farrell
- Ricci Harnett as Corporal Mitchell
- Leo Bill as Private Jones
- Luke Mably as Private Clifton
- Junior Laniyan as Private Bell
- Ray Panthaki as Private Bedford
- Sanjay Rambaruth as Private Davis
- Marvin Campbell as Private Mailer
- David Schneider as Scientist
On the DVD, Boyle explains that, with the aim of preserving the suspension of disbelief, relatively unknown actors were cast in the film. Cillian Murphy had starred primarily in small independent films, while Naomie Harris had acted on British television as a child, and Megan Burns had only one previous film credit. However, Christopher Eccleston and Brendan Gleeson were well-known character actors.
28 Days Later features scenes set in normally bustling parts of London such as Westminster Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, Horse Guards Parade, and Oxford Street. In order to depict these locations as desolate, the film crew closed off sections of street for minutes at a time, usually in early morning before sunrise on Sundays and would have typically around 45 minutes after dawn in which to shoot the locations devoid of traffic and members of the public - to minimise disruption. Portions of the film were shot on a Canon XL1 digital video camera. DV cameras are much smaller and more manoeuvrable than traditional film cameras, which would have been impractical on such brief shoots. The scenes of the M1 motorway completely devoid of traffic were also filmed within very limited time periods. A mobile police roadblock slowed traffic sufficiently to leave a long section of carriageway empty while the scene was filmed. The section depicted in the film was actually located at Milton Keynes, nowhere near Manchester. For the London scene where Jim walks by the overturned double-decker bus, the film crew placed the bus on its side and removed it when the shot was finished, all within 20 minutes. Much of the filming took place prior to the September 11 attacks, and in the audio commentary Boyle notes the parallel between the "missing persons" flyers seen at the beginning of the film and similar flyers posted in New York City in the wake of the attacks. Boyle adds that his crew probably would not have been granted permission to close off Whitehall for filming after the terrorist attacks in New York. A clapperboard seen in one of the DVD extra features shows filming was still taking place on 8 October 2011.
The mansion used in the film was Trafalgar Park near Salisbury. Many rooms in the house, including the Cipriani-painted music room and the main hall, were filmed with minimal set decoration. The scenes occurring upstairs were actually filmed downstairs, as the mansion's owner resided upstairs. The old ruins used as the setting for an idyllic interlude in their journey to Manchester were those of Waverley Abbey, Surrey. The end scenes of the film where Jim, Selena and Hannah are living in a rural cottage were filmed around Ennerdale in Cumbria. This reflects the motorway road signage in the film which indicates the trio heading north towards the Lake District National Park.
On the DVD commentary, Boyle and Garland frequently call it a post apocalypse and horror film, commenting on scenes that were specific references to George A. Romero's Dead trilogy. However, during the initial marketing of the film Boyle did try to distance the film from such labels. Boyle identified John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids as Garland's original inspiration for the story.
28 Days Later was a considerable success at the box office and became highly profitable on a budget of about £5 million. In the UK, it took in £6.1 million, while in the US it became a surprise hit, taking over $45 million despite a limited release at fewer than 1,500 screens across the country. The film garnered around $82.7 million worldwide.
Critical views of the film were very positive. Based on 205 reviews collected by the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 88% of critics gave 28 Days Later a positive review. On Metacritic, the film received a rating of 73 (out of 100) based on 39 reviews.
Bravo awarded it the 100th spot on their list of The 100 Scariest Movie Moments with the commentators explaining that the making of the zombies fast in speed for the first time was a bright and effective idea.[when?] In 2007, Stylus Magazine named it the second best zombie movie of all time. The film also ranked at number 456 in Empire's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time. Bloody Disgusting ranked the film seventh in their list of the Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade, with the article saying "Zombie movie? Political allegory? Humanist drama? 28 Days Later is all of those things and more – a genuine work of art by a director at the top of his game. What's so amazing about the film is the way it so expertly balances scenes of white-knuckled, hell-for-leather horror with moments of intimate beauty."
- Best Horror Film (U.S. Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films — Saturn Award)
- Best British Film (Empire Award)
- Danny Boyle (Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver)
- Best Director — Danny Boyle (International Fantasy Film Award)
- Best International Film — Danny Boyle (Narcisse Award)
- Best Breakthrough Performance — Naomie Harris (Black Reel)
- Best Cinematographer — Anthony Dod Mantle (European Film Award)
Music from the 2002 film 28 Days Later.
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A heavily edited version of the song "East Hastings" by the post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor appears in the film, but the track is excluded from the soundtrack, because Boyle could only obtain the rights to use it in the film.
28 Days Later: The Soundtrack Album was released on 17 June 2003. A modified version of the soundtrack 'In The House – In A Heartbeat' was used as the character Big Daddy's theme in the 2010 film Kick-Ass. The same song was played in the latest advertisement campaign of Louis Vuitton, L'Invitation au Voyage
A sequel, 28 Weeks Later, was released on 11 May 2007. Danny Boyle and Alex Garland took producing roles alongside Andrew Macdonald. The plot revolves around the arrival of American troops about seven months after the incidents in the original film, attempting to revitalise a nearly desolate Britain. The cast for this sequel includes Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Imogen Poots, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Mackintosh Muggleton, and Idris Elba.
Comic books 
Fox Atomic Comics, in association with HarperCollins, has published a graphic novel bridging the time gap between 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, entitled 28 Days Later: The Aftermath, written by Steve Niles.
28 Days Later, a comic sequel also linking Days and Weeks and produced by Fox Atomic (until its demise) and Boom! Studios, begun production in 2009. The series focuses on Selena and answers questions about her in the film and her sequel whereabouts.
- "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade... Part 3". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on December 24, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
- "Plotting alternative film endings". BBC. August 15, 2003. Retrieved February 2, 2008.
- Bankston, Douglas (July 1, 2003). "Anthony Dod Mantle, DFF injects the apocalyptic 28 Days Later with a strain of digital video". TheASC.com. Retrieved May 1, 2007.
- "Cumbria live". BBC. Retrieved September 30, 2010.
- Kermode, Mark (May 6, 2007). "A capital place for panic attacks". Guardian News and Media Limited (London). Archived from the original on May 13, 2007. Retrieved May 12, 2007.
- "28 Days Later". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
- "28 Days Later". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 6, 2010.
- "The 100 Scariest Movie Moments". BravoTV.com. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
- "Stylus Magazine's Top 10 Zombie Films of All Time". StylusMagazine.com. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
- "Empire's 500 Greatest Movies of All Times". EmpireOnline.com. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
- Kitty Empire (November 10, 2002). "Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Adjusting to Fame After '28 Days Later'". Guardian News and Media Limited (London). Archived from the original on December 9, 2006. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
- Kilic, Uygar. "Louis Vuitton L’Invitation au Voyage Advertisement Campaign: Video and Collection". Cars & Life. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- Gingold, Michael (July 14, 2006). "July 14: Fox sets HILLS II and more release dates". Fangoria. Archived from the original on August 31, 2006. Retrieved September 1, 2006.
- "28 Months Later?". Moviehole.net. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
- "BOOM!, Fox Announce "28 Days Later" Comic Book Series". ComicBookResources.com. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
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- Official website
- 28 Days Later at the Internet Movie Database
- 28 Days Later at AllRovi
- 28 Days Later at Box Office Mojo
- 28 Days Later at Rotten Tomatoes
- 28 Days Later at Metacritic
- Naomi Harris Interview
- Filming Locations Guide