28 Days Later is a 2002 British horror film directed by Danny Boyle. Set in present day England, the story depicts the breakdown of society following the accidental release of a virus known as "Rage" (which renders people mindlessly violent) and focuses upon the struggle of four survivors to cope with the ruination of the life they once knew.
The film takes a more personal perspective of the film protagonist's as opposed to a more expanded view of society's downfall. Instead of viewing how the situation in London has gotten out of hand the viewer is only left with the aftermath at the films start. The film is almost a first person account through Jim's (Cillian Murphy) eyes.
The plot opens with the initial outbreak of the "Rage virus". The Virus has been introduced to Chimpanzee's in a research facility later when an infected chimpanzee bites a naive animal rights activist attempting to free it from a laboratory the chaos begins.
Twenty-eight days later, a bicycle courier named Jim (Cillian Murphy) awakens from a coma in a deserted hospital. Jim explores the abandoned hospital only to find no one is around. Upon leaving the hospital, he discovers that London's streets are much like the hospitals, empty. However he soon discovers the abandoned streets are rife with catastrophe. Taking refuge in a church, Jim is chased by some of London's now Rage infected residents, but fortunately for Jim he runs into and is rescued by two survivors, Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley), who rush him to their hideout in a section of the London Underground. Jim learns that while he was comatose, a virus had spread uncontrollably among the populace, turning them into vicious, mindless, blood-spewing monsters (referred to as "The Infected"), resulting in societal collapse, possibly on a global scale.
While visiting Jim's house, the group discovers that his parents have committed suicide. They are soon ambushed by more of the infected, and upon realizing that Mark has been slashed in the attack, Selena quickly kills him, and explains to Jim that it takes only seconds after exposure to infected blood to catch the virus.
On their journey through the abandoned city, Jim and Selena are chased into an apartment complex by more infected there they encounter two more survivors, Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Megan Burns). After spending the night at Frank's flat, it becomes quite apparent that a few survivors will not last long, given that supplies - particularly water (due to drought) - are dwindling. Frank later receives a prerecorded radio broadcast transmitted by soldiers who not only have raised a blockade near Manchester, but claim to have "the answer to infection." Despite initial reservations, the four survivors decide to leave London in Frank's cab to find the soldiers. When they do finally reach the blockade, Frank suddenly becomes infected, only to be slain by the soldiers.
The soldiers inhabit a fortified mansion under the command of Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston). Jim learns that West's "answer to infection" entails waiting for the infected to starve to death while giving hope of community survival to the men by forcing sexual servitude upon female survivors. Jim attempts escape with Selena and Hannah, but is subdued by the soldiers and led into a forest to be killed alongside a condemned soldier.
Escaping his captors, Jim spots a passenger airliner flying overhead giving Jim hope. West and another soldier are lured out of their haven by a siren that they know Jim must be manning, seeing this as a potential threat that may alert more infected to their location West and another of his soldiers make haste to the blockade. After killing West's subordinate, Jim dashes back to the mansion leaving West to fend off more infected that have been drawn to the blockade. Meanwhile Jim returns to the mansion to rescue Selena and Hannah, who are stalling to avoid rape by the soldiers. Jim releases an infected soldier that West had kept chained; the soldier enters the mansion, attacking and infecting most of the soldiers, after which Jim slays the remaining soldiers. Covered in blood, he so viciously attacks the soldier detaining Selena that she fears that Jim may be infected. Her fears are not realized, and the two passionately kiss. With Hannah in tow, they run to Frank's cab, but West appears, shooting Jim in the stomach. West is then killed by the infected soldier he had confined, allowing the trio to escape.
After another twenty-eight days, the infected are dying of starvation. Selena, Hannah, and Jim (who is recovering from the bullet wound) have taken refuge in a remote cottage. With huge cloth banners, they attempt to signal a passing aircraft previously observed flying overhead. Selena wonders aloud, "Do you think he saw us this time?"
Return to the Hospital
In this ending, Jim is mortally wounded while escaping the soldiers, and is rushed by Selena and Hannah to a local hospital. After Jim dies, the two women leave his body at the hospital, completing an eerily prophetic circle for Jim, who starts and finishes in the film's time frame alone in a deserted hospital. Selena and Hannah, armed with guns, walk through a pair of operating room doors, which gradually stop swinging. This was the official ending of the first cut, which was tested with preview audiences. It was ultimately rejected for seeming too bleak; the final exit from the hospital was intended to imply survival, whereas audiences felt that the women were walking to certain death. This ending was added in the theatrical release of the film beginning on July 25, 2003, and was placed after the credits and prefaced with the words "...what if." This ending is also sometimes used during television broadcast in other countries.
On the DVD commentary, Garland and Boyle expressed a preference for this alternate ending, calling it the "true ending".
This ending was both shot and edited.
Rescue Ending 2
Included on the DVD, this ending is quite similar to the released version's final scene of potential rescue from the air. In this scenario, Jim has died from his gunshot wounds, so this time, only Selena and Hannah are seen waving to the jet flying overhead in the final shots. And in the scene immediately prior, where Selena is sewing one of the banner letters, she is seen jokingly talking to a chicken instead of Jim.
This ending was shot but not "finished"
Return to the Research Complex
The story picks up when Frank is infected at the military roadblock near Manchester. This time, however, there is no subplot involving the soldiers. In a radical turn, Jim, Selena and Hannah take Frank to a local research complex, where the virus was first developed. Their goal is to find a cure, which the radio broadcast had suggested was in the vicinity.
A short time after arriving at the research complex, Jim and Selena encounter a man self-barricaded in one of the rooms with a week supply of food and water. After being asked whether he transmitted the radio broadcast, the man replies that it was made by the (now-deceased) soldiers at the blockade. After the man refuses to talk any further, Jim attempts "to break the ice" by discussing his own life, shown in flashback clips recounting trivial details about his past. In desperation, Jim explains their situation to the man, who informs them that the only known cure is a complete blood transfusion, after which Jim nobly sacrifices himself so that Frank can survive. In this ending, Jim is again left alone, infected in a deserted hospital, while Selena, Hannah and Frank move into the room with the man.
On the DVD commentary, Garland and Boyle mention that they conceptualized this ending in post-production to see what the film would be like if they did not expand the focus beyond the core four survivors. They ultimately decided against the ending because the idea of a total blood replacement as a cure was not feasible.
This ending was not shot and is presented on the DVD through storyboards and voiceovers.
The film has garnered much critical and commercial praise. Many top film critics praised the film for its style including Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times, Claudia Puig of the USA Today, A.O. Scott of the New York Times.
The film has gandered a rating of 89% on the popular film review site rottentomatoes. To date (as of July 23, 2007) it has received 166 "fresh" ratings and only 20 "rotten" ratings with an average rating of 7.3/10.
- Cillian Murphy - Jim
- Naomie Harris - Selena
- Noah Huntley - Mark
- Christopher Dunne - Jim's Father
- Emma Hitching - Jim's Mother
- Alexander Delamere - Mr. Bridges
- Kim McGarrity - Mr. Bridges' Daughter
- Brendan Gleeson - Frank
- Megan Burns - Hannah
- Luke Mably - Private Clifton
- Stuart McQuarrie - Sergeant Farrell
- Ricci Harnett - Corporal Mitchell
- Leo Bill - Private Jones
- Junior Laniyan - Private Bell
- Ray Panthaki - Private Bedford
- Christopher Eccleston - Major Henry West
- Sanjay Rambaruth - Private Davis
- Marvin Campbell - Private Mailer
28 Days Later features scenes set in normally bustling parts of London such as Westminster Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, Horse Guards Parade and Oxford Street. In order to depict these locations as desolate, the film crew closed off sections of street for minutes at a time, usually in early morning to minimize disruption. Portions of the film were shot on a Canon XL1 digital video camera. DV cameras are much smaller and more manoeuvrable than traditional film cameras, which would have been impractical on such brief shoots.
The scenes of the M1 motorway completely devoid of traffic were also filmed within very limited time periods. A mobile police roadblock slowed traffic sufficiently to leave a long section of carriageway empty while the scene was filmed. The section depicted in the film was actually located at Milton Keynes, nowhere near Manchester. For the London scene where Jim walks by the overturned doubledecker bus, the film crew placed the bus on its side and removed it when the shot was finished, all within 20 minutes.
Filming took place prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, and in the audio commentary Boyle notes the parallel between the "missing persons" flyers seen at the beginning of the film and similar flyers posted in New York City in the wake of 9/11. Boyle adds that his crew probably would not have been granted permission to close off Downing Street for filming after the terrorist attacks in New York.
While travelling around London at the beginning of the film, Jim picks up a copy of the Evening Standard. The front page created by the filmmakers carries a single headline printed in large font: "EVACUATION", with the sub-heading "Mass exodus of British people causes global chaos." Above the main headline, there are 3 small subheadings with page numbers- "Who will stop them?", "Refugee Crisis Looms" and "Dangerous Animals." Below the headline, the front page contains a list of London's boroughs with evacuation information on the left side with the main body containing the following smaller headlines, in order:
- "Blair declares a state of emergency"
- "Military ordered 'shoot to kill'"
- "Government Check points overrun"
- "UN to build giant refugee camps"
- "Chaos at all London airports"
- "Government call for calm"
- "Military patrol waters around Britain"
- "All roads around London grid-locked"
The character Jim was English in the original script, and several scenes were actually shot with Cillian Murphy using an English accent. Due to Murphy's request, he continued the shoot using his own Irish accent, dubbing over his English-accented lines in post-production.
The mansion used in the film was Trafalgar Park near Salisbury. Many rooms in the house, including the Cipriani room and the main hall, were filmed with minimal set decoration. The scenes occurring upstairs were actually filmed downstairs, as the mansion's owner resided upstairs.
One month before the film was released in cinemas, various newspapers included a short panel comic book style promotion for the film, in which various scenes showed a chaotic London during those 27 days with people trying to escape the city en masse.
- The exteriors of the streets of London were shot in the early hours of the morning on weekdays. The crew only had a couple of minutes each day, and crew members had to politely ask clubbers not to walk onto the streets.
- The plane used in the film flew from Blackpool to the location in the lakes. It took the crew hours to make the same journey, but it took the pilot less than six minutes and cost £6,000 in fuel.
- The hospital in the film is a real day hospital and is not open at weekends. The trust managers of the hospital hire out the hospital for weekends so the filmmakers paid them directly which benefited the finances of this public hospital.
- The tower block where Hannah and her father lived was condemned and has now been demolished.
- The tunnel scene was filmed in a new tunnel extension which the filmmakers had special permission to use.
- Police allowed a stretch of the M1 motorway to be closed for a few minutes at a time for the scene where you see a long desolate stretch of road.
- Most of the film was made using digital cameras to give it the really real look (the final scenes in the cottage were shot on 35mm film). An added benefit of the digital filming was that the London shots could be set up and executed much quicker than otherwise possible which helped the filmmakers exploit very tight time windows to complete the scenes of an empty London.
- Christopher Eccleston and the other soldiers in the film had a three-day training programme with real soldiers to help them learn how to carry themselves believably.
- The filmmakers had the co-operation of councils and help from the police to clear streets (and a motorway), but only for short periods which would have been useless if not for the flexibility and speed provided by digital video cameras which were used to shoot the entire film.
- The angelic song that plays in the background, particularly during the car trip, is called "In Paradisum" by Gabriel Fauré.
- Horror novelist Stephen King bought out an entire showing of the film in New York City.
- The surnames of Jim, Selena, Mark, Frank, and Hannah are never revealed, either during the film or in the credits. Likewise, the names of Jim's parents are never revealed.
- The Bible verse on the postcard that Jim is so interested in is from the Book of Nahum. Nahum was a prophet who predicted the destruction of the great city of Nineveh, the capital of the great, and at that time flourishing, Assyrian empire. It was to be utterly destroyed as a punishment for the great wickedness of its inhabitants.
- Scriptwriter Alex Garland acknowledges several sources as inspiration for his screenplay, notably John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids (1962), George A. Romero's "Dead" trilogy (Night, Dawn and Day) and The Omega Man (1971). Direct homages include Jim waking up in the hospital from The Day of the Triffids (1962), the chained infected being studied from Day of the Dead (1985), and the scene in the grocery store (people in the mall from Dawn of the Dead (1978)), the stop for supplies that saw a run-in with infected children (also Dawn of the Dead (1978)), and the military holing up against the plague with outsiders partially to deliberately include females (also Day of the Dead).
- Leonardo DiCaprio was offered the role of Jim.
- Tilda Swinton was offered the role of Selena, but passed.
- Robert Carlyle was offered the role of Major Henry West.
- A back-story was developed by director Danny Boyle and actress Naomie Harris to explain her character's hard-natured, ruthlessly pragmatic outlook on life. Apparently, the character had been forced to kill her entire family in one afternoon, starting with her infected mother and father to save her baby brother, only to discover that her brother was also infected.
- The symbol used for this film is an international symbol for blood-borne biohazard.
- Ewan McGregor was the original choice to play Jim.
- The fighter jet pilot speaks Finnish. He asks "Lähetätkö helikopterin?" ("Can you please send a helicopter?").
- The flashback scenes of Jim's parents were shot on Super 8mm film.
- The word "fuck" is used 61 times throughout the whole film from the beginning to the end of the mansion scenes.
- In the scene where Jim escapes from the two soldiers who're about to execute him, the shots of the jet flying overheard were shot by director Danny Boyle. During filming, Boyle took one of the Canon XL1's being used and shot planes for about two days flying over his home in London and simply filmed them through the trees in his backyard.
- This is Brendan Gleeson's second role in films about deadly viruses. The other was Mission: Impossible II (2000).
- All of the scenes in the mansion that involved upstairs rooms were filmed downstairs as the mansion's owner lives upstairs. When Jim jumps in through the window in the roof, he is actually jumping through a hole in the corridor upstairs down to the ground floor with rain effects upstairs.
- While filming the mansion scenes, the crew's favorite place was The Wooden Spoon in Downton, Wiltshire. They liked it so much that they gave them one of the dead bodies from the execution pile which can still be seen today sitting at a table.
- The crew filed all of the necessary papers to destroy the petrol station in Canary Wharf, but the police were unintentionally not notified. When the explosives were detonated, police responded as if a petrol station had really exploded and sent fire brigades (although there was already one present). Danny Boyle finally resolved the manner after several hours.
- Funded by the British Film Council, which in itself is funded by the National Lottery. As a result of this, there are prominent advertisements for the National Lottery throughout the film, for example in the newsagents near the beginning of the film and in the supermarket (in the background while Jim and Frank are discussing whisky).
- The first scene of an empty London was filmed early on a weekday morning. The director Danny Boyle organized for good-looking women to stop the traffic from entering the empty streets as he rightly reckoned the drivers would be more co-operative with good looking girls.
- If you did actually travel 27 miles North East of Manchester as stated in the movie, you would end up in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
- Alex Garland and Danny Boyle did a great deal of research into social unrest, drawing ideas from things that had happened in Rwanda and Sierra Leone (such as the piling of bodies inside churches), but drew the line at using any actual footage from such incidents in the opening montage. All footage featuring dead bodies/desecration of bodies was faked.
- Errors in geography: During seasons where filming occurred in Vancouver, whenever ambulances were shown in scenes, the paint scheme on them clearly identified them as British Columbia Ambulance Service vehicles.
- Factual errors: A soldier radios in "... , I repeat...”. In UK signals, "repeat" is reserved for artillery fire; correct would have been "I say again".
- Errors in geography: The M602 is not 26 miles northeast of Manchester, as was mentioned in the looping radio broadcast from the army. It runs east-west, straight from the centre of Manchester, for about 5 miles.
- Continuity: When Jim is walking through London, there is a shot of Big Ben and the clock face reads 8:15, however in the next shot the clock appears to read 6:40.
- Crew or equipment visible: When Frank has been shot and the soldiers are approaching his body, you can see a cameraman lying down at the right of the screen in front of a concrete block. He's clearly visible for about three seconds.
- Crew or equipment visible: When the camera pulls back to show Manchester aflame, if you look at the south bound lane of the motorway, you can see a row of flashing lights in the distance. This is the police keeping the traffic back so that the road looks clear. Also if you look to the left of the lights about two seconds later, you can faintly see a car drive by in the distance.
- Revealing mistakes: When the soldiers are marching Jim and another soldier off to shoot them, they are standing by piles of dead people. A few of the dead victim's chest can be seen rising and falling.
- Revealing mistakes: During the first shot of Centre Point at Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street, on the left side of the screen, a man can clearly be seen changing the bags of a dustbin to the right of the stationary lorry.
- Continuity: In the first shot of Centre Point at Tottenham Court Road, only one lorry is parked beneath the building. However, in the second shot that is slightly closer up, a second one has appeared parked in front of the first.
- Continuity: As we cross a deserted Westminster Bridge, if you glimpse in the background, you can see the traffic lights at the junction of Bridge Street and Victoria Embankment at red., but the National Grid has been shut down.
- Continuity: In the night sequences at the mansion, despite torrential rain, thunder and lightning, a full moon is seen shining brightly in a clear sky over the mansion.
- Continuity: When they are leaving London they stop off at the super market for food, when inside the store it is clearly illuminated by artificial lighting although there is meant to be no power in the city then when they leave there is a shot from outside which shows the shop in complete darkness.
- Revealing mistakes: In the wide shot of Westminster Bridge (just after Jim shouts "Hello" - 9'15" on the Region 2 DVD), a "blob" can be seen for about a second on the right side of the frame, moving from right to left following the edge of the bridge and then disappearing. This is what's left of a car crossing the bridge that wasn't properly painted out.
- Continuity: In the opening scene Jim is seen walking northwards over Westminster bridge, moments later he is crossing Waterloo bridge in the same direction.
- Continuity: When Major Henry West pours Jim a drink, during the scene where he tells Jim what he has in store for the girls, he pours a little liquor into one glass, and in the next shot, refills the same glass, which is now empty.
The Production Budget of the film was around 8 Million USD or 3,886,607 GBP. The Films gross has been to date:
- U.S. - $45,000,000
- U.K. - 12,000,000
- Foreign - 25,000,000
- Worldwide Total - $82,719,885
The DVD release of the film took place May 19, 2003 in the U.K. and October 21, 2003 in the U.S.
The PAL release of the film includes:
- Anamorphic (16:9) Widescreen (1.85:1) Version
- English 5.1 Audio
- Optional English and Swedish Subtitles - Optional English Subtitles for the audio commentary
- Audio commentary by director Danny Boyle and Alex Garland
- Alternate ending
- 'Pure Rage: The Making of 28 Days Later' (24 mins)
- Jacknife Lee music video (6 mins)
- 7 deleted scenes with optional commentary (16 mins)
- Stills gallery with commentary
- Polaroid gallery with commentary
- Animated storyboards
- Theatrical teaser
- Theatrical trailer
The U.K. also saw a 2 disc Limited Edition which featured identical features to the first release with additional content aimed toward hyping the sequel 28 Weeks Later. These features included an exclusive sneak peek at the theatrical sequel 28 Weeks Later through behind-the-scenes footage, and an exclusive “28 Days Later: The Aftermath” animated featurette that bridges the storyline between the two films.
The U.S. Release features are identical to that of the Original U.K. Release.
The films main soundtrack was composed by John Murphy. Much of the soundtrack, however, is based on a heavily edited version of the song "East Hastings" by the post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The track is excluded from the soundtrack, due to the band's restricting it.
28 Days Later: The Soundtrack Album was released on June 17, 2003. It features some of John Murphy's original score and tracks from Brian Eno, Grandaddy and Blue States.
The Track Listing is as followed: (All John Murphy unless otherwise noted)
- The Beginning
- The Church
- Jim's Parents (Abide With Me)
- Then There Were 2
- Tower Block
- Taxi (Ave Maria)
- The Tunnel
- AM 180 - Grandaddy
- An Ending (Acent) - Brian Eno
- No More Films
- Jim's Dream
- In Paradisum
- Frank's Death-Soldiers (Requiem In D Minor)
- 'I Promised Them Women'
- The Search For Jim
- Red Dresses
- In The House-In A Heartbeat
- The End
- Season Song - Blue States
- End Credits
- Season Song (Rui Da Silva Remix)
- Taxi (Ave Maria) (Jacknife Lee Remix)
The film has spawned a sequel entitled 28 Weeks Later. The film was directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, and was released in the United Kingdom and in the United States on 11 May 2007. Danny Boyle had commitments to the film Sunshine and thus could not return to direct, although he did complete some second unit filming for the film as well as acting as the film's executive producer.
In March 2007, Danny Boyle was interviewed by an Irish radio station, where he claimed to be interested in making a third film in the series, 28 Months Later. However, it is still unknown if this third chapter will be made.
- 28 Days Later at the Internet Movie Database
- 28 Days Later at AllMovie
- 28 Days Later at Rotten Tomatoes
- 28 Days Later at Wikipedia
- 28 Days Later at Horror on Screen
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