28 Weeks Later (2007)

(In theaters, May 2007) Faster, bigger and more headache-inducing than the first film, 28 Weeks Later struggles from the onset with a wholly unnecessary premise. Though the aspect of repopulating a devastated London (28 weeks after the rage outbreak of the first film) has its original appeal, it’s no big plot twist when the plague starts again, lending a profoundly depressing atmosphere to the entire film. The rest is strictly routine in zombie-movie terms: The outbreak takes over everyone, our cast of characters slowly dwindles down, and the only interest comes from the various ways they’re picked off. The bleaker-than-bleak conclusion tops the film with an extra dose of futility. Looking more closely at the film’s mechanics, it’s a bit sad to see that the rage-cam is back, speeding up and getting less coherent at every action scene. The individual gags work well (I defy anyone not to be awed at the firebombing of London), but it add up to a profoundly grim experience. As a fun-house mirror held up to our own anxieties (something zombie movies have traditionally been very, very good at doing), it reflects back our horrors of a never-ending struggle, of pandemics run wild, of complete depersonalization against uncontrollable forces. Whew. You might as well bash yourself on the head with a TV tuned to CNN and save yourself the $10.

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