28 Weeks Later
reviewed by Andrew James & Misael Soto
The style is very similar to the first, something the trailers made me expect otherwise, including the fast paced cinematography and loud rock music that comes roaring in when it counts and fades away just as quickly. I love that about this franchise (if I can call it that). The rawness of it all is somehow refreshing. Here we have a director that uses the lately overused "shakey-cam" technique to maximum effect. A tactic I normally abhor from a director, but Fresnadillo uses it sparingly and in just the right places, actually enhancing the overall experience. Bravo.
So much of this film's impact is the gripping, yet odd soundtrack. Fresnadillo brings the original theme from Days but uses it differently and with greater effect. Sort of ambient, peaceful sounds that crescendo into ripping, distortion-laden power chords with an intense drum beat that educes even more tension from the audience. Listen carefully during the first attack sequence to the discordant music compared with the visuals. Then listen as it builds to the sort of music you would expect to hear in an on-screen situation of its kind. I would go so far as to say that the soundtrack is equally (maybe even more) important to the film's style and feel as are the visuals.
The brutality in Weeks seems much more visceral and bloody in this second installment. Some of the shots are really hard to watch, even with a stomach of iron like mine. Other shots, though gore-tastic, are simply lots of fun. Rodriguez' attempts at helicopter kills in Grindhouse have nothing on the success of said tactics in Weeks. There are also some well calculated shots, conveying a sense of unknowing fear that works extremely well, bordering on brilliant.
The only area where Weeks fails and Days succeeded, a rather prominent one, is character development. I couldn't care less about the family in the film, the solders who try to help, or anyone else. The actors chosen, while believable in their roles, were boring and devoid of charisma or emotion. The only characters we have a vested interest in, are dead or infected early on. Perhaps one could blame this on the screenplay and the film's higher aspirations which the first film lacked, but I don't think there's any excuse for it.
Besides the one, if obvious, flaw, the film is definitely a gem of the genre and a worthy sequel to Boyle's Days. Weeks grabs you (the opening sequence is fantastic) and never lets go until the final, sequel-promising shot. Though certainly not a five star film, it achieves what it sets out to accomplish most triumphantly. I'll definitely be there for the next one . . . 28 Months Later? That'll work.
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
FLIXSTER PROFILE for 28 Weeks Later