Why 17 days? Because 17 is my favorite number.
Apparently, Fresnadillo believes that the proper way to film any action scene is to shake the camera violently and pan it wildly back and forth, thereby making it virtually impossible to figure out what's going on (and pushing viewers with motion sickness to the brink of voiding their stomachs). As if that wasn't bad enough, in the editing room, Fresnadillo ensured that no single shot lasted longer than about a second. Also, the climactic struggle takes place in darkness, making it that much more difficult to decode the action. I didn't realize a character had died until, a little later, it was apparent that person was no longer around.
I have no idea when this now-popular motif began.
Perhaps it was in the 1980s, when a new generation of filmmakers was aping the style of MTV videos, training developing eyes to consciously catalogue every single frame of imagery, thus transcending the film’s ability to sneak past anything subliminal. Whatever the case, my eyes are past that development. I can’t follow “shaky-cam/edit-itis” action scenes. I have no idea what’s going on.
I think I first noticed “shaky-cam/edit-itis” in Top Gun circa 1986, with its dogfights so convoluted that I couldn’t tell MiG from F-16. Today, those fights seem tame as almost three decades of watching modern “shaky-cam/edit-itis” has caught my eyes up with Tony Scott’s mid-1980s editing choices. Likewise with the final fight between Martin Riggs and Mr. Joshua in Lethal Weapon, which I found disappointing in 1987 as its minor “shaky-cam/edit-itis” seemed inconsistent with the rest of this excellent film.
But I digress.
After watching 28 Days Later with my best friend (see the review I posted yesterday), we drove to Walmart to purchase a $7 copy of 28 Weeks Later because we were both curious to see where the story went.
Did the Rage Virus ever become contained?
Was England restored to normalcy?
What happened to our last few surviving heroes?
The answers to those questions are no, no, and I don’t know.
When the narrative picks up 28 weeks after the initial outbreak of the first film, the Rage Virus is somewhat quarantined but still at large. England is not restored to normalcy because those few uninfected are being sequestered from their homes for their own safety. As for the heroes of the first film … we never see them as we’re now following new survivors.
The story begins with a married couple, Don (Robert Carlyle) and Alice (Catherine McCormack) hiding out with a few other survivors at a farmhouse in the English countryside, hoping to wait out the infection. They worry about their two children, who were visiting grandparents in Spain during the outbreak, and wonder if they will ever see them again.
Suddenly, a horde of infected attack the homestead, and in perhaps the film’s most intense set piece, Don manages to escape, assuming Alice has been taken by the monsters. He runs from the farmhouse, stealing a glance back to see Alice, still alive, watching him from the window before she is overtaken by the creatures. And then he is running, racing with all his might to the boat dock to escape while mewling, slathering, infected things lope across the plains behind him.
It’s a chilling way to start a story, but unfortunately the rest of the picture doesn’t really take off. Don is reunited with his children, and Alice even shows back up, not as an infected zombie but as a carrier of the virus, immune to its symptoms. Of course she’s none too happy with being abandoned by Don, but she’ll remedy that situation soon enough …
In spite of its many flaws, I liked 28 Weeks Later. It’s “shaky-cam/edit-itis” was actually less noticeable than I expected, perhaps because I was watching in a home theater rather than the big screen, and although the story falls a bit flat in places, I still had a lot of fun. I’ll admit it’s hard to really connect with this crop of characters (something we had no problem with in the first film), but I was still on the edge of my seat whenever the infected showed up. No, I didn’t almost wet myself, but I held my breath a few times.
I particularly liked the epilogue of the film, which I’ll go ahead and spoil here since the film doesn’t really have any surprises. After the climactic showdown in the London tube, the film cuts to a horde of infected running through the train tunnels and stations, growling and drooling. We are led to believe that we are still in London, that the military has successfully kept the virus contained on the island, but I knew better. I've been to Paris enough times to know what the Trocadéro Metro station looks like, and sure enough, the camera follows the infected as they scamper up the stairs and into the daylight, loping and bounding across the Palais de Chaillot to reveal the Tour Eiffel in the distance.
Ah, Paris. I love that city. In fact, when I’m done watching 28 Weeks Later tonight, I may have to pop in a double feature of Diva and Paris je t’aime.
Previous Days of Halloween:
Day 1 – Baby’s Breath
Day 2 – Phantom of the Paradise
Day 3 – The Shining (miniseries)
Day 4 – 28 Days Later