Jay Gets Scared (in a good way)

In line with my previous post about disaster movies , I am also a huge fan of things about zombies. It started when I first saw Night of the Living Dead, the original black and white one, on television when I was a kid and it scared the living crap out of me. It was so ... real and bleak and terrifying. I immediately fell in love with it.

You see, zombies are my version of Mexican food. You know how some people can't eat Mexican food because it gives them gas and heartburn and generally makes them miserable? And you know how those people still eat Mexican food anyway, because Mexican food is delicious and cannot be resisted? That's me and zombie movies (except for the gas - although that would be an interesting effect). I mean that zombie movies give me nightmares, actual terrifying nightmares, and make me scared to go into the dark basement, and, after reading World War Z, a book about the (fictional) Zombie War, I had to go out and buy a crowbar, because I didn't have one and my lack of a crowbar left me weaponless in the face of a zombie attack. I'm not kidding. I bought a crowbar in response to a book about zombies. (By the way, I highly reccommend World War Z, by Max Brooks. It's a great book.)

This is a really roundabout way of saying that I saw 28 Weeks Later, today. 28 Weeks Later is a sequel to 28 Days Later, a zombie movie released in 2002. Although some people will argue that it's not actually a zombie movie, because the zombies in it are alive and infected with something called the Rage virus that makes them attack everything in their paths, those people are wrong. All I'm saying is, if it moans like a zombie, and bites like a zombie, and infects others like a zombie, then it's a zombie. 28 Days Later did make one change to the zombie oeuvre, however; in it, the zombies are fast. No more of the shuffling about - these zombies run. In that movie, we follow progonist James and his friends who try to get out of a London filled with the "infected" to a military outpost. Once they get there, however, they discover that the military survivors may be worse that the infected.

28 Weeks Later is the story of what happens after this movie. None of the original characters return - this is a wholly different story from the first one, but set in the same universe, which is pretty much the only way a successful sequel can be made in this universe (the original movie had 4 different endings, and most of them weren't ... happy). So, anyway, in Weeks, we follow the story of Tammy and Andy, two kids who were evacuated from London during the events of the first movie. They are returned, as part of a repopulation plan for Britain, after the infected have all starved to death.

The Rest of This Entry Is Spoilers and I can't figure out how to use a cut on Blogger, so you might want to stop here if you don't want to know anything about this movie.

So, 28 Weeks is pretty good, as far as sequels go. London is, OF COURSE, reinfected, and there are a LOT of scary parts that I had to watch without my glasses on (true), and it is overall a lovely addition to the zombie ouevre. But I did have some nitpicks about it that could have been so easily fixed by someone who paid a little closer attention to the screenplay. These are those:

1. The reinfection is caused by the kids, who discover thier mother, alive, in their childhood home, where they should not be. And thier mother, it turns out, is immune to the virus, but a carrier and, as a direct result of their discovery of her, the world ends. This undercuts my sympathy for the kids, frankly. (And makes the ending of the movie truly horrifying in a way that I don't think was intended by the flimmakers.) Because they are DUMB and decided to fuck around where they shouldn't be fucking around and Bad Things Happen. So, frankly, I feel like they get what they deserve.

What's more annoying to me about this problem is that it's one that could easily be solved by the mechanisms in the film. The soldiers are going from house to house cleaning up London, so it's simply inevitable that they discover the kids' mom eventually. Also, the soldiers have found other survivors, like the kids' dad, and let them live - there's no "shoot on sight" policy or anything (at this point) - so nothing integral to the plot would have to change except, you know, the protagonists wouldn't be responsible for KILLING THE WHOLE WORLD.

2. My second problem is one that, I'm sure, was inserted by the screenwriters at some point to up the pathos of the whole thing. The reinfection starts when the kids' dad goes to apologize to the kids' mom for leaving her behind. She seems to forgive him and they kiss and BOOM! He's infected. It's sort of cool, actually. But then, dad zombie follows the kids around for the rest of movie, showing up at THREE convenient times to threaten the kids, even after London is (a) fire-bombed and (b) flooded with poison gas. This is a problem, because zombies don't think. They are, in the universe of the movie, completely overcome with maddening rage, and have no self-preservation instinct whatsoever. So how Zombie Dad avoids the firebombing and poison gas is (a) a mystery and (b) a little too deus ex machina for me.

But other than that, it was a Super Zombie Movie, and everyone should go see it.


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