28 Weeks Later

A companion piece to Knocked Up, and another brutal example of how kids ruin everything. Kids (spoiler alert!) make a grieving man feel even guilter about his Darwinist decision-making during the zombie outbreak. Kids (fuck it, there’ll be lots of spoilers) break the basic rules of their junta and bring a plague-carrier back to civilization. Kids let a raging zombie into an overflowing room of uncontaminated survivors, dooming their tiny civilization. Heroic soldiers sacrifice themselves to save kids who might have the cure to the zombie plague – a cure that the last shot of the film promises us will prove utterly useless.

There is a right way to use kids in movies, the way Aliens (to which this movie has been compared, thanks to the director/cast sequel switcheroo) does, where they will occasionally be bait but they serve a vital function and we don’t begrudge them. 28 Weeks Later has two likeable child stars (including the stunning Imogen Poots, who gets a 90-minute sponge bath from Juan Carlos Fresdanillo’s lovestruck camera) but the story keeps turning them into accidental villains.

It’s a huge letdown from the follow-up to Danny Boyle’s film. I’m not going to pretend 28 Days Later is some sacred text, and there isn’t actually anything as silly here as the wacky military compound zombie attack in the 2003 film. (It’s a danger whenever you make zombies fast that the audience will eventually start humming “Yackety Sax.”) But I was fond of the way the disease in 28 Days Later was so elemental, never fully explained by one of those batshit scientists who lurk around these movies like panhandlers outside the 7-11, only talked about fearfully and theoretically in short conversations. The innovations in this movie – the possible cure, the “carrier,” the immunity – make the virus mundane and B-movie-ish. And then there’s the matter how the kids’ father, when infected, earns the power to walk slowly and sneak up on people, to pick his victims strategically, to (apparently) teleport – basically, to turn into Jason. And how London is so small that people escaping over the Preston’s Road bridge and the Westferry Road bridge, with no knowledge of each others’ location, will end up 20 minutes later in the same park.

There are a couple of dynamite sequences (the nightvision-lit journey through the underground, for example) but overall it’s a rote and disappointing continuation of a story that didn’t need to be continued.