28 Weeks Later
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Intacto)
Writers: Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Jesús Olmo
Producers: Bernard Bellew, Enrique López Lavigne, Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich
Starring: Robert Carlyle, Imogen Poots, Mackintosh Muggleton, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 99 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

reviewed by Andrew James & Misael Soto
     What a ride this was! Although maybe not technically as well done as the first Danny Boyle-helmed 28 Days Later, Weeks certainly has several aspects that work better; most notably the intensity. I was cringing and dodging in horror quite a bit with fingernails firmly dug into my arm rests; proving to be flat-out gross at times, much more so than the first film.

      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.

      If anything, Weeks is smarter than its predecessor. With a wider scope, it brings in some new and interesting ideas. Dealing with the problems of repatriation, repopulation, and a newly formed, severely restricted government controlled society in a fascinating way; Weeks draws obvious parallels to our current era of terrorist fears, similarities that can't be ignored. Completely gone is the sense of hope and love for humanity of the first film, obviously due in part to the fact that London is now controlled by the U.S. Military. The civilian survivors have to deal with two deadly threats this time around: the infected and the soldiers ordered to eradicate all. Personally I'd be more afraid of the latter.

      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.

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