GeekTyrant October Zombie Fest: 28 DAYS LATER

28 Days Later comes from director Danny Boyle, the same man who brought us such films as Trainspotting, Sunshine, the Academy Award winning Slumdog Millionaire and the upcoming film 127 Hours.

28 Days Later is a breath of fresh air when it comes to zombie films. This was an innovative zombie flick that was different from any other zombie film that we’ve seen before it. It gave us a very dark, horrific, realistic and sophisticated look at a new kind of zombie. Here’s a great explanation and in-depth look at what Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland did to re-invent the zombie.

The primary idea behind Rage was that every generation gets the zombies it deserves, and Alex Garland and Danny Boyle felt that the notion of the living dead wanting to eat peoples' brains was outdated. One of the original impetuses behind zombie movies was a fear of nuclear power and the possible ramifications it might have on humanity. As such, Garland and Boyle looked at what this generation is afraid of, and concluded that one of the biggest fears in modern society is a fear of diseases, a fear of a viral apocalypse, such as Ebola or Marburg. Indeed, Garland and Boyle were specifically inspired by such incidents as the recent anthrax and bioterrorism scares in London as well as the recent spread of mad cow disease and foot-and-mouth disease in the UK. As such, they decided to base their zombies on this fear of viruses. 

Another aspect of rendering the zombie movie more contemporary was the idea that the virus didn't necessarily affect people physically (it doesn't kill them as in traditional zombie movies), but psychologically. Both Alex Garland and Danny Boyle felt that the idea that the virus renders people zombie-like due to uncontrollable rage was a good metaphor for the contemporary phenomenon of social rage (such as road rage, air rage, hospital rage etc). They liked the idea that the virus simply amplifies something already in each and every man and woman, rather than turning them into something entirely Other, as is the traditional route in zombie movies. 

The 'design' for the symptoms of Rage was based on Ebola, which is communicable in all primates (including humans), and is transmitted through the blood. Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever which leads to a rash, red eyes and both internal and external bleeding. Indeed, in 28 Days Later: The Aftermath (a graphic novel set between 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later (2007), it is explained that the Ebola virus was being used by the scientists as a carrier for the inhibitor which mutated into Rage. 

Here we have an incredibly smart zombie film that showed us something we’ve never really seen before in a zombie film, and that's one of the main reasons why I enjoyed this film so much.I loved that they thought outside of the box when creating this world.

The film also launched the career actor Cillian Murphy.

If you have not seen this film yet for some reason I strongly suggest you finally grab a copy and watch it! If you have seen it, and it's been awhile, watch it again, I think you'll be surprised at how much you will enjoy the film all over again. The best thing you can do though is to share this film with someone that has never seen it before. 


Animal activists invade a laboratory with the intention of releasing chimpanzees that are undergoing experimentation, infected by a virus -a virus that causes rage. The naive activists ignore the pleas of a scientist to keep the cages locked, with disastrous results. Twenty-eight days later, our protagonist, Jim, wakes up from a coma, alone, in an abandoned hospital. He begins to seek out anyone else to find London is deserted, apparently without a living soul. After finding a church, which had become inhabited by zombie like humans intent on his demise, he runs for his life. Selena and Mark rescue him from the horde and bring him up to date on the mass carnage and horror as all of London tore itself apart. This is a tale of survival and ultimately, heroics, with nice subtext about mankind's savage nature.

Tag Line:

Day 1: Exposure - Day 3: Infection - Day 8: Epidemic - Day 15: Evacuation - Day 20: Devastation

Fun Movie Quote:

"Oh, great. Valium. Not only will we be able to go to sleep, if we get attacked in the middle of the night, we won't even care."


28 Days Later Film Trivia:

  • Ewan McGregor was the original choice to play Jim. After that didn't work out, the role was offered to Ryan Gosling, but although he was interested, he could not commit due to a scheduling conflict. 
  • The Bible verse on the postcard that Jim is so interested in is from the Book of Nahum. Nahum was a prophet who predicted the destruction of the great city of Nineveh, the capital of the great, and at that time flourishing, Assyrian empire. It was to be utterly destroyed as a punishment for the great wickedness of its inhabitants.
  • The tower block where Hannah and her father lived was condemned and has now been demolished. 
  • For the scenes on the motorway, the production got permission to shoot on the MI on a Sunday morning between 7.00am and 9.00am. The police gradually slowed traffic in both directions, and using 10 cameras, the filmmakers managed to capture a total of one minute of usable footage.
  • The decision to film on DV (using Canon XL1 cameras) was both an aesthetic and a logistic choice. On the aesthetic side of things, Danny Boyle felt that the harshness of the DV imagery suited the post-apocalyptic urban landscape and the grittiness of the film in general. In the production notes of the movie, Boyle points out that "the general idea was to try and shoot as though we were survivors too," and as such, a pristine 35mm widescreen image would have been antithetical to this notion. In terms of logistics, producer Andrew Macdonald claims that it would have been impossible to shoot the film on anything other than DV, especially some of the exterior scenes in London. As MacDonald points out in the production notes, "The police and the local authorities were quite happy to assist us because we could set up scenes so quickly. We could literally be ready to shoot with a six-camera set-up within minutes - something we would not realistically have been able to do if shooting under the restrictions of 35mm which takes a good deal more time to set up a single shot." 
  • The word "fuck" is used 61 times throughout the whole film from the beginning to the end of the mansion scenes. 
  • Scriptwriter Alex Garland acknowledges several sources as inspiration for his screenplay, notably John Wyndham's Invasion of the Triffids(1962), George A. Romero's "Dead" trilogy (Night, Dawn and Day) and The Omega Man (1971). Direct homages include Jim waking up in the hospital from Invasion of the Triffids (1962), the chained infected being studied from Day of the Dead (1985), and the scene in the grocery store (people in the mall from Dawn of the Dead (1978)), the stop for supplies that saw a run-in with infected children (also Dawn of the Dead (1978)), and the military holing up against the plague with outsiders partially to deliberately include females (also Day of the Dead). 
  • The crew filed all of the necessary papers to destroy the petrol station in Canary Wharf, but the police were unintentionally not notified. When the explosives were detonated, police responded as if a petrol station had really exploded and sent fire brigades (although there was already one present). Danny Boyle finally resolved the manner after several hours. 
  • Athletes were cast as the Infected because of how important physicality is to them. Danny Boyle felt that generally, athletes can do things other people can't, and he thought this would be interesting when translated into the movements of the Infected. 
  • The scene where Jim and Selena celebrate with Frank and Hannah was shot on September 11. Danny Boyle has said it felt extremely strange to be shooting a celebratory scene on that particular day. 
  • For the scenes in London, poilce would close the roads at 4am and filming would begin immediately. It would last for one hour, and at that time the police would reopen the roads. As well as having to deal with traffic, the producers also had to ask clubbers to find alternative routes home. In terms of the traffic, the producers correctly predicted that asking drivers to either wait for up to an hour or find another way might cause some considerable consternation. As such, they employed several extremely attractive young women (one of whom was Danny Boyle's daughter) to make the necessary requests. This plan had the desired results, as the drivers responded quite amicably to the young girls. 
  • Funded by the British Film Council, which in itself is funded by the National Lottery. As a result of this, there are prominent advertisements for the National Lottery throughout the film, for example in the newsagents near the beginning of the film and in the supermarket (in the background while Jim and Frank are discussing whisky).