Determination of survivors of a virus outbreak

28 Days Later

Released November 1, 2002

IN SOCIETY. 28 Days Later recurs on those well-used themes on the self-destruction of humanity and in spite of its dark tones survival is its main motif: the determination of the survivors of a virus outbreak when it would be easier to shrivel up and cease existing.

It’s a variation on the theme of man’s inhumanity to man – which is why the future looks without hope, told with a mixture of solemnity, irony and occasional off-beat humor. This includes send-ups of symbols and vestiges of capitalism – like soft drink vending machines – in a deserted and lonely London. The post-apocalyptic setting of 28 Days Later recurs on those well-used themes on the self-destruction of humanity and in spite of its dark tones survival is its main motif: the determination of the survivors of a virus outbreak when it would be easier to shrivel up and cease existing.

This catastrophic world disaster feels like a futuristic fantasy rather than a modern day event although the near-extinction of the human race via a monkey virus that causes its victims to kill one another is compelling and relevant enough.

It could also play as a cautionary tale, a commentary on the fragility of the world, or even pose as black humor: mankind as perpetrator of violence goes extinct and it should have happened earlier. The metaphorical parallel between the biological virus and killing and man’s propensity to murder makes its point clear: the future of humanity looks grim, the means to destroying each other rather primitive and strangely natural.

Then it’s a wonder how and why the central characters get on when everyone else is infected with the human condition. As viewers our identification is in the drama of the survivors, as if our natural instincts are inherently there. Twenty-eight days after this global virus outbreak, survivor Jim (Cillian Murphy) emerges from deserted London streets to meet the street-wise Selena (Naomie Harris) who informs him of a pack of rabidly infected survivors. They stick together. Their plan is how to out-wit their half-human, half-beast adversaries, which leads them to a military outpost that purports to have the antidote to the virus.

Their relationship becomes the hinge to develop a bigger idea – love and reproduction in this new age of anarchy and apocalypse, reminiscent of 1983’s television movie The Day After, and this is developed with darker tones when Selena and Jim face the underlining but contradictory motives of the military in sustaining the human race.

The central characters are easy to like and identify with, their dilemmas intriguing to follow. We hope for their good, but their destinies are uncertain – and something sinister feels as if it is lurking in the background. The unnerving climax proves that we have sided with the protagonists when we are rooting for their survival against the odds, the darkly textured milieu reflecting the nature of the world they have inherited, which is a sometimes disturbing, and occasionally graphic violent journey.

Reviewed by Peter Veugelaers

Published 2003, Entertainmentnutz.com/Movies

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