Saturday, May 12, 2007

Some thoughts on "28 Weeks Later"

Brother Thomas and I saw "28 Days Later" when it came out in Belgium a good year earlier than it was released in the United States. At that time it wasn't clear that we were watching a zombie movie until, well, the zombies showed up. I still remember then Gregory's reaction--"it was a freakin' zombie movie!"--since what had attracted us both to the film were the post-apocalyptic images of London, not the blood and guts of the second half of the film.

(Some time later, I got a kick out of making gutteral zombie throat noises in the dark hallway outside of our rooms, right in the ear of an unsuspecting Gregory. Ecgh! Ecchhhcg! Not the only time I played cruel jokes on him.)

I was excited to see 28 Weeks Later, upon seeing that the reviews were favorable. I have some thoughts (CAUTION: SPOILERS):

  • The sequel is more predictable and Hollywood-ish than the first film. I knew, as soon as the story focused on a small group of survivors, that everybody was doomed except for the children and, perhaps, the attractive woman. I also knew that the upstanding, handsome American soldier would die in an act of heroic self-sacrifice.
  • I focussed on the black chopper pilate to see whether this movie would kill him off. Mainstream movies still don't know what to do with black characters, so they either kill them off, make them into black stereotypes, or turn them into mysterious "gatekeeper" figures that, as such, do not require a personality). In truth, this movie did a little bit of all three.
  • SPOILER: Twist ending was neat; a little tacked on, but actually makes me salivate for the third movie. It also dragged this movie out of sheer cliche-ness. Makes it a tragedy in the true Shakespearean sense, if you catch my drift.
  • The most ubelievable part of the film was that they would even think about resettling the country less than a year after the disaster.
  • SPOILER: Plot hole. The Rage virus is a blood pathogen. The infected wife kissing her husband (with no notable open wounds in either) shouldn't have turned him into a zombie.
  • There's some screwy logic going into both movies about the nature of the zombies. The lore seems confused about their motivation. They're not actually hungry, since they don't actually eat their victims--they just bite, and bite somebody else, and bite somebody else. Hence how the infecteds died from starvation after the first film. If they were true cannibals, it would have taken the original infestation longer to die out than it did. It's as if the infected's "purpose" is neither mindless rage nor carnivorous hunger but simply spreading the disease. Some have commented on the strangeness that the infecteds do not attack each other; this may have less to do with intelligence or society (Ala Romero's recent zombie movie) than perhaps a kind of built-in repulsion between infecteds. They run in groups because they have common targets, no other reason. The hole in this theory is that (SPOILER) the infected husband attacked his infected wife. But that was different, perhaps, because his infected wife was just a carrier and thus may not have been emitting whatever repulsion is effective between infecteds.
  • On a more relevant note, I do believe in angels and their fallen counterparts, and I have explored a notion that devils are in a sense just like spiritual "infecteds". Perfect Love, and Perfect Freedom, are IMO synonyms for God and they are synonyms for salvation. In the films, to be infected is to have your entire being possessed by a single purpose, destruction. There are important differences between devils and infecteds, but the key similarity is that their wills are entirely collapsed into hatred; they cannot not destroy. The key difference is that devils have freely forfeited their wills; and also that they hunger as much for self-destruction as for the destruction of others. The infecteds fail to be a stronger analogy just because of plot points in place to make the films scarier. But the fact that infecteds are still technically alive make them a curious analogue to the devils we see possess people in other movies and that we read about in books. To be evil is to be reduced to the barest thread of existence, and to hate even that thread. Despair turns to rage, and rage to murder. Murder and suicide are kin.


Matt of CG said...

Those brits sure to do have the corner on the distopic movie market. I'll wait for it on DVD. Real life is lurid enough and the price of admission is free. If I'm gonna spend $9.50 to $15.00 to watch a movie, it better excite me or challenge the dauntless moral entropy that persists in popular culture. A movie like Spartacus or the Passion of the Christ or Falling Down.

You and Spike Lee could chop it up forever on the subject of the "magical negro."

There are some that say we Americans have become too much the discriminating moviegoer, but I say not. I would rather eat three days worth of: a can of sardines, a cup of yogurt, a piece of fruit and a can of vegetables, than spend $9.50 watching a crappy movie.

I like the parallels you drew between the protagonists' fight for survival against the zombies and the current near-eternal battle waged over our very souls.

Suzanna said...

You theologize EVERYTHING, don't you? Not that it's a bad thing, though. I just like to tease.

Matt of CG said...

He-he-he. And that's what I like about Jeff, he's always striving to peek beyond the veil like the rest of us curious little kids. And God says in reply,"Patience children, the veil will be lifted from your eyes all in due time."

And that's what I like about Jeff.

Br. Thomas said...

What, another zombie movie? I admit to having watched Night of the Living Dead and enjoying it way too much.

Remember when we watched Ring and started making the phone ring in the middle of the night? Those were the days.