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A group of animal rights activists discover caged chimps and ignore the warnings of the terrified researcher that the chimps are infected with a deadly rage virus. 28 days later cycle courier Jim (Cillian Murphy) comes out of a coma (unrelated) in a London hospital. The streets are deserted and there are dead bodies heaped in the church. Jim meets up with other survivors Selina (Naomie Harris), Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Megan Burns). When Jim finds a transistor radio, he searches and finally gets a signal - a transmission from a British Army unit giving a location near Manchester. Facing almost certain death in the city, the four set out on the hazardous journey to Manchester. The unit claims to have the answer to the infection, but the answer is not what they expect.

Review by Louise Keller:
A zombie thriller spiked with horror, 28 Days Later begins with plenty of promise and shocks, but gets swallowed up by an overdose of bloody violence. Screenwriter Alex Garland, who also wrote The Beach, describes it as a 'sort of oblique war film' with director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) exploring the paranoia of society. It's certainly a fascinating premise and the opening scenes in which we witness rage-infected chimps, are overtly disturbing and confronting.

What happens next is cleverly left to our imagination, and when we meet our protagonist 28 days later stark naked in a hospital bed, we are anxious to find out what happened. Through his eyes, we wander through the apocalyptic landscape that was once London. From scenes of terror and violence to the eerie isolation, the contrast couldn't be greater.

The scenes when Jim wanders past Big Ben and Piccadilly Circus are positively creepy. Boyle excels at scaring us, and there are quite a few terrifying moments. I must confess I did look away a few times especially when rage-infected zombies spewed what seems like litres of blood. It's not until Jim meets Selena, Frank and his daughter Hannah, that the characters are developed.

It's a terrific cast and I especially like charismatic Cillian Murphy (Disco Pigs), whose Jim turns his confusion and vulnerability to that of a man who knows where he is going. Brendan Gleeson (The General) as the London taxi driver offers us memorable moments, Naomie Harris brings a softness into her initially impenetrable Selena and Christopher Eccleston (Shallow Grave) is splendid as the Major. It's not only Jim and his companions who are disillusioned when they reach the Manchester soldier blockade, so was I, as Boyle's film becomes overbearingly violent with far too much that is not only too explicit, but also tedious. At that point 28 Days Later just seems to lose the plot and probably the audience with it.

There's a reasonably comprehensive package of special features, that offers two alternate endings: one has only a minor change, but Boyle and Garland have come up with a 'Radical Alternative Ending', on storyboards, which they discuss and read the various parts. If you are interested in the film, best bet is to head straight for the audio commentary; the 25 minute behind the scenes feature is stilted and disappointing. There are also eight deleted scenes with optional commentary, a stills gallery and trailer.

Published March 25, 2004

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CAST: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Megan Burns, Brendan Gleeson, Christopher Eccleston

DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle

SCRIPT: Alex Garland

RUNNING TIME: 113 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: March 25, 2004

PRESENTATION: Widescreen 16: 9

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by Danny Boyce and Alex Garland; storyboard alternative ending; eight deleted scenes with optional commentary; the making of; music video; stills gallery; Polaroid gallery; animated storyboards; trailer

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