Horror Movies

28 DAYS LATER. Outstanding post-apocalyptic science fiction horror

Imagine waking up from a coma in a hospital bed; naked, unaware of how long you’ve been absent.

Edward Kelley

3 December 2023

28 DAYS LATER. Outstanding post-apocalyptic science fiction horror

You remember the accident, then only darkness. An abandoned hospital, destroyed equipment, chaos – you’re uncertain if you’ve truly awakened or if you’re still trapped in your private nightmare. Deserted streets, abandoned cars, a lifeless city. By chance, you find your way to a church; the first bodies you encounter, a priest – relief floods over you, for many hours, you hadn’t seen a living soul. Little do you know that the nightmare is just beginning.

While not as influential as his debut or Trainspotting, which became a springboard for the careers of Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle, 28 Days Later carries authentic tension due to its evocative atmosphere, unconventional plot, and the vision of a world after a viral apocalypse – a rarity in today’s cinema. Boyle’s filmography, including his debut Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, and 28 Days Later, reveals a tendency toward exploring the vulnerabilities of the human psyche in extreme situations. Each film, in its own way, delves into the intricacies of human behavior when faced with challenging circumstances. The latest addition seems to be a post-apocalyptic horror film with science fiction elements, a zombie movie paying homage to George Romero‘s classic, Night of the Living Dead.

28 Days Later... Cillian Murphy

Similar to Romero’s work, the leading theme of 28 Days Later isn’t a bloody massacre executed by mutated corpses (though such scenes are not absent), but it serves as a pretext. In Boyle’s film, the apocalypse becomes a pretext to depict the mechanisms governing people in a situation devoid of any top-down control. Here, humans become masters of their own fate, liberated from the societal constraints that usually shape behavior. No government, no supervision, the norms imposed by today’s media vanish, leaving people to fend for themselves. What comes next on this path? Unfortunately, it’s painfully predictable, and that’s what Boyle’s film narrates. The apocalypse is merely a prelude to something much worse.

28 Days Later... Cillian Murphy Brendan Gleeson Naomie Harris

One might say that in 28 Days Later, a world devoid of bonds cultivated through societal and technological evolution has turned upside down, and that would be true – for us, who grew up in a society constrained by conventions, where social contracts become binding laws. In reality, however, what unfolds in this post-apocalyptic world is a return to a natural state where the simplest laws, or rather their absence, prevail. Natural selection – only the strongest survive, killing becomes a necessity for survival. Humans are reduced to their primal roles, becoming both the hunter and the hunted. Instead of uniting in the face of danger, we witness degradation, moral decay, and animalization. Priorities undergo a reevaluation, and satisfying the most primitive instincts becomes the essence of existence.

28 Days Later... Cillian Murphy

The outcome is inevitable – once again, humans turn against each other rather than focusing on combating the threat. In a crucial scene that defines the film’s meaning, the monsters created by humans become the main characters, and the bloody spectacle between humans demonstrates that an ultra-dangerous rage virus is not necessary to turn us into animals; we are in no way better than them.

28 Days Later... Cillian Murphy

Boyle’s film lacks the typical effects found in American productions like Resident Evil. Nevertheless, it remains visually appealing, alternating between evocative images of the desolate streets of London and idyllic provincial views on the characters’ journey, enriched by a well-selected soundtrack. In contrast to Resident Evil, 28 Days Later could still stand alongside classics like George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead or Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, even without these advantages.