28 Days Later
***.7 GM
Starring: Cilian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Megan Burns, Brendan Gleeson

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SUNDANCE REVIEW (which means I'm doing a lot of reviews in a hurry, so they might be shorter and less fantastical):

This is a really intense British post-apocalyptic tale that sorta takes the major plot device in "The Return of Optimus Prime" and puts it in a non-Transformers related story. The "hate plague," an experimental infection set loose from a lab by animal activists, runs like wildfire throughout England, sending everyone who comes in contact with it into a murderous rage and a severe, incurable mental regression into a zombie-like maniacal state. Then one guy wakes up in a hospital a month later to discover the world gone mad and decaying. Really intense, really cool.

Despite my mention of 'zombie-like,' though, I honestly didn't even think 'zombie' until it was mentioned in the Q and A after the movie. I was not thinking 'traditional monster movie' at all, although sometimes just being a film from another country obscures the spotting of cliches, for me at least. I need to see more foreign films. But no brains were eaten and nobody was actually 'the walking dead.' They were still alive, but just utterly de-evolved and crazed mentally, but invoking the zombie idea led me to notice a lot of similarities. There's definitely a bit of a zombie vibe, but these suckers are FAST and they're ON YOU LIKE GANGBUSTERS. None of that slow, staggering shit. Then they spit blood all over you and if they're freakin' germs get in you, you've got about half a minute to say goodbye to your mind.

This movie starts off with a pretty big bang (and a cameo from Noah Taylor!) and just does NOT let up with the tension. Ratchet, ratchet, ratchet it up, and then just when you think maybe they've found a safe haven, they apply some awkward torque and take it into a different sort of creepy direction. Murphy pulls off a believable transformation from a disoriented and bewildered bike messenger waking up into a strange nightmare into the guy shoved off the deep end enough to become this Rambo-like maniac in order to get his friends out of their immediate and twisted new dangers.

I also initially thought this movie ended on a bit of a positive turn, until I had a bit of dialog at the end clarified for me that I'd missed entirely the first time. Not quite the up note I'd thought.

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