FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jan 16, 2008

28 sentences later

Julia Roberts winning that Oscar for Erin Brockovich (over Ellen Burstyn for Requiem for a Dream) (which is simply one of the most amazing performances by anyone in anything in the history of ever) (I'm just saying) turned me into a cold-hearted snake with regards to awards. Oh, sure, we all know awards are suspect- particularly when it comes to declaring one piece of art "the best", but sometimes the sheer wrongness of it all (Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction? Really?) makes me want to get a tattoo on my forearm: a big anchor with the words FUCK AWARDS written around it in fancy cursive script.

That said, I should probably point out that any time I win an award, it's totally and completely well-deserved, like when I won the French Award in high school. And no, unfortunately I didn't win the French Award in the Kissing Division- that honor went to Alisha J...that whore!

My point is, when 28 Weeks Later won "Best Horror Film" at the Scream Awards, I reacted with a resounding "meh". When you all voted it "Best Horror Film of 2007" in a recent poll here at Final Girl, I reacted with a resounding "Jesus, can't I get some GD readers who aren't total crackheads?"

And then, the other night, I finally watched the damn thing.

I don't know why it took me so long to get around to seeing it. Maybe it's because I loved the first one- how could the sequel match up, particularly considering that the writing/directing team of the first (Danny Boyle and Alex Garland) weren't to be found in the second? And...you know...it's a sequel. Diminishing returns and all that.

Let's just say that I owe everyone who voted it "Best of '07" a big "Gee, I'm sorry I doubted you". Don't let this humble apology go to your head, however. It should be noted that I still find your fashion choices dubious at best. But honey, your taste in horror films is simply divine!

28 Weeks Later is paced so frenetically that it makes me want to bust out some primo Peter Travers-style movie-poster-worthy- yet-trite-and-shitty-one-liners: It's a non-stop, action-packed thrill-ride! 28 Weeks Later goes for the throat and doesn't let up! It's a white-knuckle roller-coaster ride you'll never forget! You'll be so scared you'll punch your gramma!

It's highly possible, even, that I liked it more than I liked the original. It was much more gory and, to my surprise, much more moving. The opening sequence left me feeling that all bets were off, and by the end of the film I was proven right; it's wonderful to go into a horror film only to realize that you can't know what to expect.

Virtually the entire zombie subgenre is rife with political and social commentary (let's not debate the use of the word 'zombie', okay? that argument is so 2002) and 28 Weeks Later is no exception. I like my horror with a little meat on its bones, to be sure- but here it didn't really matter. I was so damn wrapped up in the goings-on that I was simply enjoying that (white-knuckle roller-coaster) ride. Yeah, there are a few plot holes, a claim to which I react with a resounding "BFD".

I loved this film so much that I think I need to reconsider the text on that anchor tattoo. Maybe I'll change it to say FUCK JULIA ROBERTS.

50 comments:

Old Dark Housekeeper said...

I live and breathe horror films, and 28WL... is down as my favorite since, oh... Carpenter's The Thing?

It's been a long, long time since any movie affected me like that opening sequence.

Too bad you didn't see it in the theater... when it was all done, I walked out shaking.

Stacie Ponder said...

Th opening was incredible- and there was a sequence in the middle that actually had me tearing up as well. I was shocked at how much I liked this film, and how emotionally affecting it was.

spazmo said...

Great sequel. Thankfully, that pesky law of diminishing returns is getting on in years, and even lapses narcoleptic once in a lucky while. Certainly applies in this case!

Know what else?
"Resident Evil: Extinction".
Oh my god, I loved this thing, but I can't find your review. Is it on another site?

John Barleycorn said...

Stick with the anchor tattoo.

dreamrot said...

If I were going to make a list of the top 10 opening scenes in horror movies, 28 Weeks Later would be in the list and the other 9 would just be filler to round out the top ten. I just can't think of another movie that started off as strongly as 28 Weeks Later.

And, in 2007, did 28 Weeks Later really have that much competition for Best Horror Movie? Maybe I didn't see as many of the movies that came out last year as some folks did, but I don't remember anything else coming out that really was all that great.

RD said...

"28 Weeks" was better than it had any right to be. Like you said, diminishing returns. I watched it again recently and it holds up on a second viewing. Easily one of the best horror films of the last few years.

And I gave up on award shows after I worked on the Academy Awards a few years ago. The voting rules are a travesty. You don't have to actually see the movies to vote. It's a total sham.

I think I need one of those anchors.

Stacie Ponder said...

Spazzie, I've yet to see RE: Extinction (me am cheap). Come to think of it, I haven't officially reviewed ANY of the RE films here. Hmm...I just got an idea...

Mr Barleycorn- oh yeah, it'll be an anchor. I'm only changing the fancy cursive script!

sir jorge said...

what? that crappy movie was voted #1

ah the world is ending!

Theron said...

"28 Weeks Later" is still sitting in my shelf unwatched. Soon.

But I DID finally watch "The Descent." I must admit, Stacie, that I sorta doubted you on that one...but I owe you a sheepish apology. I've been burned by so many "cave movies" in the past...well, YIU understand. "The Descent" rocks, people. (Ha - cavve - rocks...whee!)

Rural Juror said...

See . . . sorry to be a wet blanket, but I thought the movie squandered all the promise it had at the beginning. There was just too much unnecessary crap. It was like the last third of 28 Days Later stretched out.

I loved the beginning and the idea of a family affected was a great idea BUT WHY WAS ROBERT CARLYLE FOLLOWING THEM THE WHOLE TIME?! The rage is scary b/c it doesn't have any logic or thinking behind it. Isn't it a little silly that he somehow managed to survive SO MUCH to get to his kids? And how did 2 kids manage to evade the entire army? The answer: to advance the plot.

So, I thought it was good, but not as good as the first.

Stacie Ponder said...

Theron, I don't blame you for harboring doubts. Had I seen The Cave or The Cavern before The Descent...well, I may never have given it a shot. I'm glad you liked it, though!

Rural, the dad following them for so long is a bit of a stretch, I'll admit, but I think maybe some of it has to do with the fact that the virus is evolving. In the first film, the infected soldier (the one who'd been tied up and studied) actually looks for people throughout the house and examines his own reflection. Maybe it's not so preposterous that 7 months later, the infected are capable of conscious thought (whether that's scarier than mindless infected is totally subjective), I don't know. Like Night of the Living Dead zombies versus Land of the Dead zombies.

As I said, there are plot holes- the kids managing to escape and get to their house is kind of a big one- but I was having too good a time to worry about 'em.

The Trick said...

I have to agree with Rural Juror. It was much better than I would have expected from a quick sequel with minimal returning talent, but in the end it still felt clunky and uneven.

The original may have had its shortcomings, but I felt the emotional scenes in it worked much, much, much better. Some of the digital effects in the sequel also looked pretty stupid.

Another part of what made the original work so well for me was the incredible soundtrack Boyle had put together (I certainly never expected I would ever hear Godspeed You Black Emperor in a commercial movie theatre). In the sequel, they used that one short clip of the original score over and over and over and over again. It's a great piece of music, but c'mon... It's also been used in the Beowulf trailer, I noticed.

Anonymous said...

I tough this was another pretencious rip off art zombie film like the first one, but 28 weeks later is a in your face exploitation horror film.

So Final Girl, welcome to the club!
aaron

JA said...

I had a sort of different reaction to the movie; I wasn't all that affected by it upon my first viewing, but then it was one of those ones that just wouldn't leave my brain for awhile afterwards. I watched it again and as it turns out I like it more and more with each viewing.

I have far less trouble than most people casting aside plot-holes and logic-leaps when a movie is getting me on an emotional or even just visceral level, so I think 28WL succeeds in spite of its obvious plot mechanics. It doesn't really seem to give a shit about following the "rules" of the disease as have been laid out, but is instead focusing on giving us some sort of nightmare attack on Family. The movie's not about following the logic, but about making Daddy the scariest fucking thing you could ever imagine. And I was with it there.

ARBOGAST said...

Ja, I'm with you... I shut off 28 Weeks Later feeling as though they had just seen and raised the original's ante on cynicism... but in the following hours I reflected hard on the movie and found I not only liked it a lot but loved it hard and wanted to cheat with it behind 28 Days Later's back.

28 Weeks Later goes Night of the Living Dead one better; while Romero's film seemed to feel that, when the chips are down, we will let one another down 28 Weeks Later tells us that even our best efforts will be in vain. I loved the daisy chain of saviors shepherding those kids to... oblivion.

And I feel like all the complaints about the virus inconsistencies are nerd gripes from people who can't engage with the fact that "Rage" is metaphoric; we're not watching a clinical case study, we're watching a work of art reflecting on what we mean to each other... for all the good it does us.

Theron said...

If a movie entertains you enough that you can see past the plot holes, it's done its job. Especially if it's a horror movie because, c'mon people, horror movies are predicated on plot holes (e.g., the living dead? Sheesh.)

Anonymous said...

28 Weeks Later was my favorite horror film of the year too and second favorite overall (Zodiac was a masterpiece crime drama).

Small plot holes can be accepted if the overall flow of the film is good. For instance, do you really think Chief Brody could've shot the air tank in the shark's mouth at the end of Jaws? I don't.... but the film works so well overall, it doesn't matter.

I'm not comparing 28 Weeks Later to Jaws, but its a similar scenario.

Old Dark Housekeeper said...

I didn't have a problem with the father being able to track his children... I put it down to The Rage reverting him to a more animalistic stage, that he could differentiate the scent of his children from others.

And he was already sort of pissed at his kids (for taking their mother's word over his) even before he became infected. So...

Ray said...

As great as the opening scene is, the "Code Red" sequence was maybe the best scene I saw in any movie last year. The entire quarantine goes FUBAR, the snipers start shooting everything; the shakycam works so perfectly then.

Also, it was already mentioned, by the night vision scene in the tunnel is pretty freaking scary. Especially how it ends...

Hard to say who dies the worst in 28WL. This is not a film for the squeamish, that's for sure.

unclemike said...

I can't believe I'm going to admit this here...

I know I rented it. It's on my Netflix archive. I rated it. But I'll be damned if I can remember anything about 28WL.

I am a scary, sad, old man.

Anonymous said...

Nothing new to add to this current argument, (people arguing over plot holes and inconstancies in a horror film-which aren’t plot holes a pre-requisite in horror films?) other than to say I had zero expectations for 28 Weeks Later, but really enjoyed it, probably more than the original. But what do you make of the results of your quiz on “who would you be in a horror film?” Lesbian Vampire CRUSHED the competition. I nearly died when I read your latest quiz: “the woman in Borders”-I manage a Barnes and Noble (which I assumed you meant by “big box book chain” way back when, guess it was Borders) and I wait on that freaking person every night! Get her Jason! Put her in a sleeping bag and bash her against a tree!!!
I stopped watching the Oscars after Julia won-still pisses me off.
Chuckwilson

Parkesy said...

London is a big city. So for a movie that was pretty "realistic" in how a zombie holocaust would go down, my only disappointment was that good ol' zombie dad kept showing up all over town. That boy sure got around!

dreamrot said...

Sure, parkesy, London is a pretty big town, but the quarantine area that people were living in was limited in size to just a couple square miles. Most of London was outside this area. So, do to the confined space, it's not horrifyingly unreasonable that the same person might pop up a couple times.

Piper said...

Ah Stacie,

Why ya gotta go there. Stick with your original feelings that 28 Weeks Later could not live up to the first, which is correct.

The second one started out brilliant enough, but then fell into all the same old horror movie cliches. Hey, let's shut off the lights, lock everyone in a room but let this one zombie in from God knows where. The helicopter scene was cool... when I saw it in Planet Terror. And the fact that the father seeks out the children in the end was just too much for me to forgive.

JMohn said...

I guess I don't understand why it's okay to forgive a horror movie for having great big plot contrivances. To me having those giant plot holes is just as jarring and "experience destroying" as bad CGI effects (I Am Legend, anyone?)

Yeah, there are some great scenes, scary moments, and very emotional moments, but wouldn't it be that much better if you didn't have to shut off your brain? I'm pretty sure it is possible to write a horror movie (or franchise) that sticks to its own rules and no one does anything that is so completely unbelievable or stupid that it ruins the experience. Wouldn't that turn a pretty good movie into a fantastic one?

So the army's infection containment plan is to lock up everyone together in a basement in the dark? Seriously? One of the most consistent aspects of this franchise is that they both fall apart once the military gets involved. I guess maybe I just give them more credit or something.

And what ever happened to the ratings? I love the ratings! I'd give 28 Weeks Later 7 incredibly ill-conceived infection containment procedures out of 10.

I guess I ask a lot of questions.

Mollie /Darkcarnie said...

I like the 28 weeks later better then the first actully ! i am not sure why but i too just watched it and loved it :P
yes and screw Mrs. Roberts she sucks
Ellen should have own that award R F A D was a good movie it actully in voked emotion as opposed to that snach of roberts .

muhahahahaah

ladracul said...

Funny that teh Bob (What I've been calling Robert Carlyle) was the red-eyed blood drinker in this film instead of "Eragon"...

Actually, he sorta turned me on in "Eragon"...

ARBOGAST said...

So the army's infection containment plan is to lock up everyone together in a basement in the dark? Seriously? One of the most consistent aspects of this franchise is that they both fall apart once the military gets involved. I guess maybe I just give them more credit or something.

Why do we credit the military with more intelligence in movies than we do in real life? Every day on the news there's some horrific story from the Middle East of a military operation gone completely awry due to the explosion of a five cent incendiary device and we never pause to ask how that could happen given our technological superiority (that, and God being on our side and all). Do yourself a favor and check the obituaries for military dead and observe the ages of the deceased... most of these Special Ops are 20 years old. The military fighting any war at any time is under-funded, under-prepared and under-age.

The horror, the horror.

Stacie Ponder said...

*"But what do you make of the results of your quiz on “who would you be in a horror film?” Lesbian Vampire CRUSHED the competition."

I had a feeling that it would. What surprised me, actually, was that anyone would want to be a Dr Giggles!

*"The helicopter scene was cool... when I saw it in Planet Terror."

Now, I haven't seen Planet Terror yet, but the release dates on the films are barely more than a month apart. I think it's safe to say the coincidence owes more to the notion of 'ideaspace' than 'ripoff'.

*"I'm pretty sure it is possible to write a horror movie (or franchise) that sticks to its own rules and no one does anything that is so completely unbelievable or stupid that it ruins the experience."

I understand what you're saying completely...but I didn't feel that I had to let go of that much reality to enjoy the film. I know people who pick apart every little thing in EVERY movie, who refuse to EVER go with the flow, and it drives me nuts. In 28WL, it was a matter of going with the flow for me...not, like, a total suspension of disbelief that I really had to work for. My "Huh?"s lasted a nanosecond. But that's just me.

As for the ratings, a lot of other people started using the same ratings style and so I stopped. I still think about coming up with some new method, but I get all selfish I'd like whatever I make up to me mine so I don't bother coming up with anything.

WAH WAH WAH.

Oh, and Mollie...you're insane. :)

repoman said...

I liked it. It wasn't the best film of 2007, much less the best horror film of 2007, but it wasn't bad. There were more than enough moments that really moved me to get past some of the plot holes.

But I will tell you what pissed me off more than anything...the open ending. You just know in their heart of hearts they wrote that in to ensure there can be a sequel. It just smacked of nasty opportunism. Seeing infected in Paris didn't add anything to the story. It didn't even complete what happened with the kids.

I could geek out and say there would be guards at the entrance of the tunnel on the French side and you can be sure as hell they'd know things went wrong in England and not allow anyone to just pass by. Again, that's me being a bigger geek than I like, but that's how much that stupid ending really pissed me off...

Ok, truth time: It was there to make people (like me) long for more of the story...and they know I'll slap the $10 down to see it.

Bloody Mary said...

Will it be 28 Months Later, or 28 Years Later?

I think we should all know by now that we can't rely on government to have a viable plan for emergencies (Katrina, FEMA, doin' a heck of a job Brownie, anyone?).

What I found interesting was the honest portrayal of a man throwing "women & children first" to the wind (or throwing women & children to the zombies first?) when scared shitless, and the resulting shame & guilt. It was an interesting contrast with, say, the dad in The Mist.

I had no problems "going with the flow" at all. I easily thought up plausible explanations, I like when everything is not airtight, and the best laid plans go awry, that's the whole foundation of virus movies.

Bloody Mary said...

From today's news!

"The fear is that the virus will mutate into a strain that passes easily from one person to another, setting off a pandemic that could kill millions of people in the space of a few months."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080117/hl_nm/birdflu_origin_dc

Sad man said...

28 WEEKS LATER is great and a worthy sequel to the amazing first one. The opening sequence is incredible, although Danny Boyle himself directed that part.

And Julia Roberts winning over Ellen Burstyn was both sad and hilarious. Also the fact that Bjork wasn't even nominated is hilarious. I lost my credibility back in 2000 too.

ARBOGAST said...

I thought Requiem for a Dream was a lousy movie and Ellen Burstyn's performance a little too pantomime Jew for my taste. And I lost my Oscar enthusiasm before most of you were wiping your own butts.

Stacie Ponder said...

And the Thursday Codger Award goes to...arbogast! Congratulations, sir.

Of course, since I've got that "fuck awards" attitude, your win is meaningless to me, but secretly that attitude stems from my desire to see someone else win.

I don't even know what I'm talking about anymore.

ARBOGAST said...

Get off my yard!

Stacie Ponder said...

Dammit...now I'll never get my frisbee back.

Piper said...

Stop using your big words with me Stacie. "ideaspace". Man, how am I supposed to compete with that.

I don't run on logic, I run on crazy!

jim treacher said...

Not only did they up the ante from the first one in pretty much every other way, but it was better because I actually cared what happened to these people. (Brendan Gleeson's character aside, not so last time.)

And the way the virus breaks out again... If there was any justice, Robert Carlyle would get an Oscar nomination for that scene alone. Absolutely heartbreaking and horrifying at the same time. Plus, just the enormity of it. That scene and the coda freak me out the more I think about them.

Also, Jeremy Remner ROCKED. "You tired? Me too, heh. We gotta keep goin', okay?"

jim treacher said...

Also, the Paris Infected did not come over through the Chunnel. The kid brought it with him.

MC said...

Does anyone want to Fuck Julia Roberts nowadays? I certainly don't. Fucking her Oscar has more appeal to me... though I doubt it would call....

Terminal said...

"28 Weeks" recycled everything that was good about the original, and held our hands through everything.

Characters were under developed.
Situations made no sense.
And the ending was both abrupt and corny.

Sure it's a fun movie, but 28 Days is much, much better. Raw characterization, brutal gore, and great performances.

Snarf said...

I just saw this film. Wow.

Best sequel ever!

One of the best horrorfilms I have ever seen. And it was moving and gripping too. It made me proud to love horror. Wow.

This is the kind of movie we horrorfreaks hope for when we trudge our way through lousy film after lousy film, hoping to be blessed with a deep, knuckle-whitening, breath-holdinicing experience. It is oh so rare that it actually happens, but it just did!

Wow. Awesome

Stacie Ponder said...

"Stop using your big words with me Stacie...how am I supposed to compete with that."

Oh, Piper, don't sell yourself short! I'm certain you can understand every brobdingnagian word I use.

"Does anyone want to Fuck Julia Roberts nowadays?"

Hmm...I think I smell next week's reader's poll! At least...I hope that's what I smell.

The important thing to consider here, in light of all this wonderful discussion and the varied opinions being thrown around regarding 28 Weeks Later, is that no one seems impressed that I really did only use 28 sentences in my post.

I swear, I give and I give and I give...and you...it's like you don't even notice. Why do I go to the trouble? Why do I bother getting all dressed up, getting all gussied, doing my hair and makeup, spend hours slaving over a hot oven, carefully crafting 28 sentences only for you not to notice?

Next time, make your own damn roast!

Wait, where am I...?

jim treacher said...

I noticed!

Snarf said...

I noticed too...

ARBOGAST said...

Is anyone else wondering what's the difference between underdeveloped characters and raw characterization?

Terminal said...

"28 Weeks Later," and "28 Days Later." Booyah.

jim treacher said...

Terminal got them switched around. Unless "whiny Irishman" and "tough black chick" are considered fully realized characters.

Stacie Ponder said...

I have nothing to add. I just wanted my comment counter to get to 50.

It's a first! Let's celebrate with fruit punch and sugar cookies!