28 Weeks Later - The Virus is Back!
28 WEEKS LATER is the big budget sequel to 28 Days Later. It’s Aliens to Alien, Dawn of the Dead to Night of the Living Dead. It may be bigger with a lot more guns, but with the help of the original filmmakers and a Spanish newcomer, FilmExposed’s David Brooks discovers 28 Weeks Later isn’t the thoughtless cash-in it could have been…
The original surprise hit, 28 Days Later (2002), was the brainchild of director DANNY BOYLE and his creative team producer Andrew Macdonald and writer Alex Garland. Boyle and his cohorts don’t exactly have a reputation for cash ins and sequels. If they did then they wouldn’t have such varied careers that span such genres as science fiction, crime thriller and black comedy. Macdonald comments, “We saw an opportunity to make a second film that had an already built in audience. We thought it would be a great opportunity to try and satisfy that audience.”
28 Weeks Later does try to satisfy the original fan base, who will love the first fifteen minutes, yet this sequel is more standard mainstream filmmaking than its predecessor: gone are the grainy digital cameras, the low budget, and the original characters. Boyle and his team aren’t at the helm either, but their creative hands are all over this. They handpicked Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadilo and creative partner producer Enrique Lopez-Lavigne to do the project on the strength of the Oscar nominated Intacto (2001). Boyle also directed the second unit a few times.
Fresnadilo was surprised when he was approached to do the project: “I was kind of shocked, as not being English or a Londoner, especially as in the first film London is a big character. And I’d never been here more than two weeks.” London is also a “character” in the sequel. When the children leave the quarantined Isle of Dogs, the rest of London looks like an empty shell of itself. “The idea was to try and make the film quite stark and sharp and actually quite sad really, in a way that this was the beginning of a new London,” explain Production Designer Mark Tildesley.
Another difference is that rather than using the infected as a metaphor for the violence of the mob mentality, this time they have more personal drama. Trainspotting (1996) and Ravenous (1999) star ROBERT CARLYLE plays Don, a man who is racked by guilt when in a life or death situation he chooses to save himself over his wife. A fan of the original, he was also taken by Fresnadilo approach to the story. “Juan Carlos said he really felt for the infected,” says CARLYLE, “Of all the things he could’ve said about them, that tells me he’s incredibly sympathetic and empathic.” No stranger to violent films, CARLYLE describes the violence as “horrible”, but insists, “It’s not just about the brutality. It’s character driven and you feel for these people.”
As to whether 28 Weeks Later will satisfy fans of the unique original, and match or even surpass its success is uncertain, and will no doubt generate much discussion on Internet message boards. What is certain is Fresnadilo has stamped his mark on this story. “They were looking for something fresh and new and they gave me the opportunity and the freedom to make my movie, my point of view,” says a smiling Fresnadilo.