All the rage

Superb sequel getsgets even the most hardened horror-film junkie to squirm

PEEK-A-BOO!<br>Catherine McCormack naps while an angry flesh-eater admires her porcelain complexion.

Catherine McCormack naps while an angry flesh-eater admires her porcelain complexion.

Starring Catherine McCormack and Robert Carlyle. Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo.
Rated 5.0

Horror—like comedy—is entirely subjective. What some folks may find terrifying others find silly … and, of course, the reverse can be true. As horror film tropes go, nothing has the potential to descend into utter ridiculousness more than the zombie film. To zombie purists (yes, there are such creatures), 28 Days Later and its sequel aren’t exactly zombie films. But these are also the same folks who evaluate every building they enter to note possible stronghold points and worst-case-scenario exits in case of zombie attack. So there you go. 28 Weeks Later is deadly serious business and, as a white-knuckle ride into primal horror, worth the wait.

The first film dealt with the set-up: A bicycle messenger wakes up from a three-week coma to find that a fast-spreading plague has turned London into ground zero for appalling horror. The infected are fueled by an all-consuming rage that blinds them to anything, save for spreading the disease (not unlike Rush Limbaugh listeners, but only slightly less open to reason). If you can get over the fact that the dude spent three unmolested weeks in an unsecured hospital bed as all bloody hell broke loose around him, then you’ll be able to swallow anything that happens in the sequel.

28 Weeks Later picks up … well, six months later. London has been re-secured by the United States military and the infected starved out. Civilians are being brought in to reseed the Isle of Dogs, a London peninsula and obviously some prime real estate. But due to an unfortunate lack of intuition on the part of an Army doctor overseeing the project, all hell breaks loose again and the Yanks are up to their armpits in Iraq allegory.

The film was near pitch-perfect in delivering what I want out of a horror flick (aside from one sort of silly bit that was already touched on in a recent release).

The movie also works better than its antecedent as far as acting, offering some incredible nuance in the performances of Robert Carlyle and Catherine McCormack. We’re talking an almost imperceptible tick of the lips, a twitch of the eye that conveys a lot more shadings to what the character is feeling that may not be picked up on a television screen. In the first movie, the infected just ran around in a rage attacking the uninfected; here, subtext is added to underscore what fuels that rage.

Let’s put it this way: Even being a horror junkie of the old school, I was curled up in a ball in my seat for the last hour. This is the best white-knuckle horror film I’ve seen in years. It’s not as meditative as the first one, but it sure is a lot more primal. And in its essence, isn’t that what a good horror film is supposed to be?