October 9, 2007

DVD Pick of the Week: 28 Weeks Later

This week's batch of releases is peppered with horror titles. After all, this is October. What better time than now to get them out into your bloody little hands? There is none. Ha! Thought that was going to be rhetorical, didn't you? I can take my horror films anytime during the year, but the weeks leading up to Halloween will traditionally bring the highest concentration of new titles to store shelves. There is nothing like walking through the local brick and mortar store, wandering over to the horror section and finding some long lost gem, or recent favorite that had slipped your mind just sitting there begging to be bought and watched over and over. So far, this season has brought us From Beyond, Witchfinder General, Severance, 1408, and Bug. This week brings a few more to the list, including this week's pick.

This week's pick is a recent film, having graced the big screen earlier this year. It is a sequel to the 2002 revisionist zombie film 28 Days Later. 28 Weeks Later steps up the scale, the bloodshed, and the action. This movie is definitely worth checking out, even if you haven't seen the first one.

The story opens 15 days after the initial outbreak of infection, placing it before the events of the first film. We are introduced to Don (Robert Carlysle), his wife, and a few others who are holed up in a farmhouse. Here the small group is intent on keeping themselves safe from the raging infected hordes. Unfortunately, their peace is short-lived. The house is broken into, many of them die, and Don is able to get away — but at what cost? It is a visually exciting sequence, as the zombies (not exactly accurate, but you know what I mean) break into the house and force Don and the others out into the treacherous open field outside. Tell me you aren't moved as Don runs across the field, looking over his shoulder, with a group of zombies racing over the hill crest after him as the score plays on — incredibly more emotional than you would expect from a horror film.

The story jumps forward to week 28. The US military is leading a NATO force in the reconstruction and re-population of England. We discover that Don survived, and is reunited with his children. When questioned about their mother, the kids get a story that is true, but not complete, as you will learn, and it is the decision Don makes in the prologue that will have the strongest of repercussions throughout the rest of the film.

Visually, the film is striking, filled with washed out colors, high speed shutter work, and some of the most frenetic camera work and cutting this side of Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum). When the infected strike, be prepared to be disoriented, you will be lost in the action. This is a technique that can be annoying, but not here. The shaky cam and quick cuts put you right in the middle of the action. The characters are scared, and unsure of what will happen, and so are we. Simply fantastic. There are some great set pieces strewn throughout, from the firebombing to the night scope tunnel journey, to the helicopter weapon, to the frenetic shooting of the infected streaming out of the medical complex. That last one is around the mid-point and is just absolutely tragic. When you see this scene imagine what it must be like to be in that kind of situation. It is terrifying.

28 Weeks Later is not perfect. The story has little substance to it, it is essentially a race. However, there is a wonderful emotional depth that plays out across the characters' faces, aided by some excellent music. Regardless of how you take it, the film is smartly written, fast paced, bloody, involving, and emotional. It has everything that I had hoped for and more. There are moments of great emotion, moments of pure horror, all punctuated to nice effect. Music and silence are used effectively, continuing my immersion in the tale.

Extras include: commentary with the director and writer, deleted scenes, Code Red: The Making of 28 Weeks Later featurette, The Infected featurette, Getting into th Action featurette, two episodes of 28 Days Later: Aftermath, and the theatrical trailer.

Also out this week:

  • Surf's Up. Surprisngly entertaining animated flick. Even though I am getting a little tired of penguins, this succeeds in telling a positive story and not be cloying. Much better than Shrek the Third.
  • Evan Almighty. A big misfire this one turned out to be. I liked the heart and positive thought behind it, but they forgot to bring the funny.
  • Twilight Zone: The Movie. The 1983 filmed version of classic Rod Serling tales gets a spiffy new special edition release.
  • Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. It may be a direct to video sequel, but it has Henry Rollins in it. That fact alone makes this one worthy.
  • Poltergeist: 25th Anniversary. Following the disastrous screenings by Fathom Events last week (video projection of a full frame source), the remastered anniversary DVD arrives in stores.
  • Reign Over Me. This failed to make much of a splash on the big screen, hopefully it will find an audience on DVD. This is a very good film featuring one of Adam Sandler's better performances.
  • You Kill Me. Ben Kingsley as an alcoholic hitman. How can this go wrong? It was a dryly humorous film that should do well on the rental circuit.
  • Rise: Blood Hunter. I could have sworn this was going to be a theatrical release, I guess not. Lucy Liu stars as a newly turned vampire trying to deal with her new hungers.
  • Black Sheep. I had wanted to see this on the big screen, but it was not to be. It is a horror film from Australia about genetically engineered sheep. Look up the trailer, you won't be disappointed.
  • Creature Comforts America: The Complete First Season. I saw the few episodes that ran and thought this was absolutely hilarious. I want more!
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Ultimate Edition. The classic Lon Chaney film in a newly restored edition with plenty of extras.
  • Everybody Hates Chris: The Second Season. One of the best family sitcoms on the small screen.
  • Night of the Living Dead 3D. Starring Sid Haig, this pseudo-remake had audiences divided. I am assuming that the disk comes with at least one pair of the red/blue glasses.

So, what's going in your queue?


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