Monday, April 23, 2007

zombies, man...freak me out

You know that feeling you get when you're waiting in line to go on a huge rollercoaster, and you've been standing there for hours, and you can't tell if you have to pee or if you're just scared? I get pretty wimpy about stuff like that, and by the time I get to the front of the line all I want to do is walk right across the rollercoaster car and wait at the bottom for my friends. Then when it's about to start, I seriously feel like sitting there is the worst mistake I've ever made. But I put up with it because of those glorious moments when the ride has stopped, my stomach is sore from hitting the lap bar, and I can't stop grinning.

This is exactly how I felt about 28 Days Later... and I am completely welcoming the feeling in anticipation of installment the second, 28 Weeks Later... On the one hand, zombie movies are almost always worth it. However, will there be too many changes from the 2002 original that it will reduce the charm? (Yes, I just said a zombie movie has charm. Stick with me, folks.) From the trailer and cast of the new film, the entertainment value looks promising. But all it takes is a brief recollection of how excited I was to see The Matrix Reloaded to give me pause.

For me, much of the appeal of Days was what Danny Boyle did on his budget. The unknown cast was a crucial key to the realism of the zombie threat, and by primarily shooting on digital, there was a grittiness that 1) served his cost limits and b) really upped the sexiness of the whole thing. I have no doubt that the sequel will maintain the tradition of portraying The Infected as fast, active, and vicious. It was this departure from the sluggish braaaaaaaaaaains-mongering of Romero's zombies that probably captured a lot of audiences who weren't typically into the genre before (like me). Don't get me wrong, I love Romero-style zombies, but I don't think it's valid to lump the films together. The interaction between Night of the Living Dead's Ben and Barbra was serving a very different social purpose in 1968 than that between Day's Jim and Selena.

So what purpose will Weeks serve? Though not in the director's chair this time, Boyle will be an E.P., which gives me hope that we will see his artistic traces on the new movie, with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo at the helm. From the trailer, it looks as though it was shot on film, which, coupled with the other changes I've noticed (with my ever-keen eye), doesn't look like it will distract fans of the original. Mostly because of other elements which deviate from the low-budget appeal of Days. American audiences may not know where they recognize Robert Carlyle or Rose Byrne from, but LOST castaway Harold Perrineau could be distracting to some Wednesday night ABC-addicts (I want to yell out, "Waaaaaalt!" just once in the theater...just once!). Also, is it just me, or did anyone else notice that The Infected look really different in the trailer for the sequel? Less pasty/bloody, more dirty/gunky. I know, I'm a wordsmith. Anyway, watch the trailer (available in YouTube form at the bottom of this post) and you'll see what I mean. I'm assuming this will have something to do with a mutation of the virus considering that, according to the rules set up in Days, all those with Rage should be dead by the time the sequel comes around.

The Spanish-British collaboration possibly portraying the Americans as more of a threat than The Infected, however, is what worries me the most. Now, I'm not so much of a jingoist that I'll turn my nose up at any picture that doesn't portray America glowingly, but in the wake of the nonsense surrounding 300, I just think it's possible that some mischief will be made about the USA swooping in to help people, only to become mindless killing machines (could they be lowering themselves to the level of those they are fighting? this is a completely new idea!), and this will interfere with my enjoyment of an energetic zombie romp! Ask anybody who's taken a film class with me, and they'll tell you that I am a champion of entertainment in cinema. I get that there have always been sociopolitical implications of zombie films, ever since 1932's voodooploitation White Zombie, but I think that imperialism and colonialism are just not present in the minds of the majority of people who are going to shell out a cool Hamilton to have the crap scared out of them. By zombies!

If anybody knows more about the production of 28 Weeks Later..., I'd love to hear it! Anything I wrote here came from IMDb, Wikipedia, and stuff I remember from the paper I wrote about zombies last semester. In particular, how do you feel about the presence of social concerns in modern horror movies?


P.S. Yes, I get that The Infected are not actually zombies. They are not dead, not from Haiti, and have nothing to do with black magic. And they are after blood, not brains. But no one can try to convince me these aren't zombie movies...


Jake said...

My major concern about 28 Weeks Later is that the author/screen writer of the first, Alex Garland, is not involved. Alex Garland is a genius in my mind and uses ground breaking form to revitalize his ideas about the interaction of humanity. I have a feeling this film with fall into the category that most sequals fall into. And unfortunately for Garland he is working on a new film and book titled Sunshine, and based on the blurbs available right now it looks pretty hackey. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Kat said...

Interesting...I looked him up on IMDb, and I can't say I'm familiar with anything he's done but Days. I know that The Beach was a big deal to Boyle, though, so to see that he brought him along says something.

What can you tell me about The Tesseract? It doesn't have anything to do with Hypercube, does it?

Jake said...

Yeah it does. The book has a wonderful form and is truly a work of genius. I am positive it will be taught in classes in 20 years once they come up with a term for whatever phase comes after post-modernism (I just pray the stay away from the post-post-modernism term that is being thrown around). I highly suggest the book it is by far his most interesting piece. I'd gladly go into detail, but I don't know if you like to go into texts as a blank slate or influenced by someone. I can't give it enough praise. He's the type of author that when I read him makes me realize that I will never have an impact in the literary world. He ability crushes me . . . and he wrote it at 28 . . . little bastard. :-)