Friday, August 24, 2007

Exploding heads, and hearts: 28 Weeks Later is thick with blood.

by Ryland Walker Knight

The opening ten minutes of 28 Weeks Later are not perfect but so good they may be impossible for the rest of the film to top, or even measure up to. In fact, the rest of the film only suffers by comparison. Except for one devastating sequence in a medical trailer between Catherine McCormack and Robert Carlyle that devolves into a fiery bloodbath. Other than that it gets sidetracked by some silly political trappings instead of sticking to the almost genius horror tropes set up by the opening. Pushing the politics to the side is still possible, thankfully, since it's a complex film, and one of the best of 02007. What's odd is that critics immediately championed the politics, which are hardly interesting, or subtle, upon the film's release. That reading only makes the film a white elephant dressed up like a termite. Really, what's more interesting: heritage as poison or American occupation as poison? What is a grander theme to explore? Should be obvious, right? Watching the film again helped me see it more for its ferocity rather than its bland posture because it really is a movie about bloodlines, and heritage, and not about the politics it throws at the audience by the handful. There's more there to elucidate in the trope of eyes, and visibility-as-knowledge, but I decided to post to bring attention to the opening of the film, not the film on the whole. Below is my attempt to translate the ferocity of that explosive, melancholic, and rather terrifying sequence. With only the pictures as guide, you lack the brilliant sound design of the raged men and women bursting through walls, and growling, which is a shame. If you have yet to see the film this collage may, uh-oh, contain some spoilers. This is one of the few films I've endorsed a "spoiler warning" even though you can probably tell where the film is going from minute one.


  1. (Also, Dub-C, as I like to call him, killed it on this one. Despite his political obsessions, which have really shone through in a lot of his readings this year, his work, and this essay in particular, remains exceptionally strong, and smart. He's one of those critics who can often write a review that's better than the movie he's reviewing. Plus, he's pretty funny. Only worry: dude's writing is stressed out, and it would appear, if I were to psycho-biographize this man I don't know, he kind of hates the world in its current state. To which I always respond, yeah, but we get to watch movies like this one, and Superbad, don't we?)

  2. heritage as blood. gorgeous. if only the "assassination of jesse" could have picked up on that and made 10 min of worthwhile entertainment. collage well placed (you Ry and the director). gosh- vinyl really can be heavy sometimes.

  3. Have to agree on your judgement of the film's opening really is an astounding piece of work. The rest of the film, I felt, did not live up to it, falling victim, as you say, to all-too-obvious political allegory on the thematic level, and degenerating into a mess of plot holes, illogicalities and awkward shifts in tone on an entertainment level.

  4. The trick is to read metaphorically, not allegorically.

  5. Or let them inflect each other.

    (Still thinking about this movie. Writing a lot of stuff to see printed pages soon. Will post new material shortly. Weird times, these are. But school is already pretty dope.

    (For now, some links to things I like::

    (Cavell. Yup, I'm a nut. I blame you, FG.

    (Didion. Yup, she's the bestest. I have such a crush on her author photos, even the new ones like on the back of "Where I Was From". Sample 1. Sample 2. Sample 3.

    (He's kind of ridiculous, as is anybody on TV, I think, but Charlie Rose is pretty cool, and he was kind to me. That's why I'm pumped to see he has a youtube channel devoted to his show. I'm not quite sure it's run by him and his people, though.

    (An older post on Girish's blog about Surrealism.

    (Cuyler's newest Encounter Politics post.

    (Yeah, Matt is the nicest guy ever.

    (Ed's "friendly" reminder.

    (oh plenty of stuff......... but you have google, too, at your disposal.)

  6. It is one of the best movies, I love the kill and the blood, I would like to watch it again!22dd