28 Weeks Later …
As voracious as their flesh-eating antagonists, zombie movies can’t help coming back for more until a franchise has been picked clean. In order to maintain some semblance of fine dining from their 2003 sleeper hit 28 Days Later … director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland exec produce the second course here, handpicking young Spanish tyro Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (from stylish thriller Intacto) to serve up more human fast food for their fleet-footed, rage virus-infected hordes.
The virus has been contained and mainland Britain, decimated by the original outbreak, is now slowly being repopulated under US military command. Of course such stability wouldn’t make for much of a film, so before long, a contaminated but strangely virus-resistant survivor breaks the quarantine and lily-livered wife deserter Don (Robert Carlyle) and his genetically advantaged kids attempt to avoid featuring on the menu.
A heart-pounding opening sets the scene well and the frisson of London as abandoned wasteland still works, even if the geography - the Isle of Dogs to Wembley is apparently only a walk across Regent’s Park - is as tenuous as the plotting. Fresnadillo keeps things moving as rapidly, though Down in the Valley cinematographer Enrique Chediak’s frenetic work sometimes hinders more than helps and any loftier themes - gung-ho Americanism, nuclear family meltdown - are half-digested at best. Better to chow down on the film’s strengths as a pacy, dirty, bloody B-movie, polishing off its bigger cast names with relish; but despite a sequel-baiting finale, surely no one really needs another helping 28 months later.