Tuesday, June 16, 2009

28 Days Later

The other evening, I had a dream. It was a sequence from a zombie movie, a man trying to get into a van and people inside the van trying to help him, with zombies swarming the vehicle. The camera was mostly confined within the vehicle, except at the very beginning and the very end of the sequence (yes, I have dreams that look like movies, and I'm not in them), and the man never did get into the van, as the driver had to speed off when the window was broken and the door never opened. I took this as a sign that I should watch a zombie film. Luckily, sitting right there on my coffee table was 28 Days Later.

This movie SHOULD start with Cillian Murphy, waking up from a coma and noticing that he's all alone in a hospital. As he wanders around the hospital and London, he notices that he's all alone there as well, which is mysterious and somewhat menacing. You know there's something wrong, it's freaking London, that town's always busy. Eventually, he discovers when he goes to a church that everyone's either dead or a zomb..er "infected". He finds a couple people, and learns what happened while he was sleeping, and it didn't involve Sandra Bullock at all! Eventually, they get to an army base commanded by Doctor Who himself, Christopher Ecclestone, and learn that people are just as dangerous as zombies.

I said SHOULD, so obviously it doesn't open exactly like that, instead the first scene has to do with angry monkeys affected by a virus made out of RAGE, and some hippies release them and kills us all! It's stupid, partly because it's a RAGE infection, which doesn't make any bloody sense. Can't it just be a virus? Why does it need to be a stupid RAGE virus? And why do we need to know? We shouldn't find out until Murphy stumbles upon the first characters, and they should infer that it's a virus, by how it's spread.

Let's take Shaun of the Dead, which did this better. In that movie, there's no explanation of what causes the zombies. The zombies are there, nobody knows why, and they just want to eat some brains. It's menacing because the explanation isn't obvious. And that's a comedy.

Shaun of the Dead also did the action better. The encounters with the zombinfected don't have very much tension, the actors and zombies might as well be separated by a gigantic wall given how little they are in the same frame. They never seemed like a threat, and really that's the most important part of any monster movie.

Most of all, the movie is sloppy. Characters fall in love because they're the main characters, not because of particularly compatible personalities. Characters die because the script needs them to, the most flagrant example late in the film when there doesn't seem to be really any reason for the most likable character in the film to go down. Lots of time is spent wandering around, and there are lengthy sections where there is no indication that there are even any zombies at all.

So it is not lightly that I say that the climax is intense, exciting, well made and even makes a sophisticated point about the nature of man. The fight between the three different sides is as intense and tension filled as you may have hoped the previous hour and a half was. We learn more about the characters through an action sequence than the entire film beforehand, plus we're treated to a badass song and someone getting their eyes poked out.

The music is another huge plus for this film, I absolutely adore the soundtrack. It's exciting, it's tense, it's tender, it's everything the movie needs at any given moment, and sometimes makes a sequence seem much better than it actually is. I could listen to this soundtrack all on its own, it's that good.

Alas, some good music, and a great ending, do not a great film make. I keep going back to Shaun of the Dead, which did the whole zombie thing right. It makes me appreciate just how good a director Edgar Wright is, since he made a tension filled film with exciting action, and it's a comedic take on the genre. Here, we've got a serious version, and it's not as good at that.

But if I get to make my zombie movie that I just dreamed up the other morning, I'll totally show them both.

1 comment:

  1. I support this zombie movie of yours, even if I don't like zombie films in general. I will even provide an exciting soundtrack because I have always wanted to do one.