The 101 Horror Films brings is the triumphant return of British horror with this tense, scary ride from Trainspotting’s Danny Boyle. An updated take on the zombie film that sees people infected with a virus, through a bite or single drop of blood ingested, that releases pure rage.
After an introduction of how the virus gets released amongst the populace, via infected monkeys, and those who think they are rescuing them, Jim (Cillilan Murphy) awakes alone in a deserted hospital, and a seemingly deserted London. It’s a great sequence, wonderfully shot, and the sheer emptiness of one of the world’s busiest cities is a more than a little unnerving especially as John Murphy’s score builds around it.
Then we get the first mainstream introduction of the ‘fast zombie’ – that’s because, of course, these people aren’t dead, they’re infected, so their bodies still work, but in genre terms, it’s a fast-zombie movie.
He meets up with a couple of survivors including Selena (Skyfall’s Naomie Harris), Frank (the always awesome Brendan Gleeson) and Major Henry West (Doctor 10 Christopher Eccleston).
Fleeing London in a traditional black cab, we see the desolation left by the infection, until they get hung up in a tunnel, in yet another tightly paced and edited sequence as the infected close in, preceeded by a sawarm of rats running from them… Gah! All while our heroes try to change a flat on their cab.
Danny Boyle makes an effective and entertaining film, tiny moments of humanity and humor (the shopping sequence for one) counterpoint the ever-present terror of the infected, never knowing when or where the next attack is coming from, or who the next victim is, because any and all can be killed.
Through Jim, Selena eschews her fatalist view, no longer looking after herself, but becoming part of the family group, maintaining their humanity in the face of all they confront, from the infected to simply some terrible people.
We race towards a three-way confrontation between Jim, the rogue military unit who were promised their share of violence and women, and the infected. It’s tense, fantastically shot, scary, and provides an updated twist on the traditional zombie movie.
I love the way this film is shot, and the jittery, aggressive movements of the infected add an unnerving twist to the genre you think you know. The sequences shot in London are brilliant, the emptiness of the city, and then just thinking about the way the production got those shots, it’s amazing.
Watching Selena embrace her more emotional side, while Jim, especially in the climax, embraces his inner rage is great, and his all out assault on his human enemies is simply brutal, allowing even Selena to wonder if he’s been infected.
The final act of the film, when we realize what’s actually going on with the military unit, and how much of a threat they pose to our heroes always puts me on guard, and we’re left wondering how many other monsters are out there that we can’t classify as Infected.
It’s a great little UK horror film, but one of my favorite UK horror films is still coming up on the list…
What did YOU think of this one?