28 Days Later

28 Days Later

Infobox Film
name = 28 Days Later

image_size = 200px
caption =
director = Danny Boyle
producer = Andrew Macdonald
writer = Alex Garland
narrator =
starring = Cillian Murphy
Naomie Harris
Brendan Gleeson
Christopher Eccleston
Megan Burns
music = John Murphy
cinematography = Anthony Dod Mantle
editing = Chris Gill
distributor = Fox Searchlight Pictures
released = 1st November 2002 (UK)
27th June 2003 (U.S.)
runtime = 113 min.
country = UK
language = English
budget = £5,000,000
gross = $82,719,885 (Worldwide)
preceded_by =
followed_by = "28 Weeks Later"
website = http://www.foxsearchlight.com/28dayslater/
UK film certificate = 18
amg_id = 1:276152
imdb_id = 0289043

"28 Days Later" is a 2002 British post-apocalyptic science fiction film directed by Danny Boyle. With a screenplay written by Alex Garland, the film stars Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Noah Huntley, Brendan Gleeson and Christopher Eccleston. Set in Great Britain, just after the turn of the 21st century, the story depicts the breakdown of society following the accidental release of a highly contagious virus and focuses upon the struggle of four survivors to cope with the ruination of the life they once knew.

A critical and commercial success, the film is widely recognised for images of a deserted London, and was shot almost entirely on digital video. The film spawned the 2007 sequel, "28 Weeks Later", as well as the graphic novel "".


Late one night, British animal rights activists break into the Cambridge Primate Research Facility to free chimpanzees being used for medical research. The local scientist warns the activists that the chimps are infected with what he calls a "rage virus," but the activists disregard him and set one chimp free. It immediately attacks and infects the activists and scientist.

28 days later, a bicycle courier named Jim (Cillian Murphy) awakens from a coma naked in a deserted hospital. As he leaves the hospital, he discovers London is completely deserted and rife with signs of catastrophe. Jim is soon discovered and chased through the streets by infected people before being rescued by two survivors, Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley), who rush him to their hideout in the London Underground. They reveal that while Jim was comatose, the virus had spread uncontrollably among the populace; the result of which was that most of the population devolved in to vicious, bloodthirsty psychopaths (known as "the Infected") and resulting in societal collapse, possibly on a global scale.

Selena and Mark accompany Jim to his parents' house, where he discovers that his parents committed suicide by means of a drug overdose. That night, two of the Infected attack the survivors, and when the fight ends they discover that Mark is injured and is likely infected. Selena immediately kills him with her machete, explaining to Jim that infection is spread through the blood and overwhelms its victims in seconds, rendering them deadly to others. She warns that should he become infected, she will kill him "in a heartbeat." As the two journey through the derelict city the next day, Selena rules out intimacy between her and Jim, declaring that only the fight for survival remains. They discover two more survivors, Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his teenage daughter Hannah (Megan Burns), holed up in an abandoned block of flats. Invited to spend the night, Selena and Jim privately debate whether they should remain with Frank and Hannah. Jim says they seem like good people, while Selena fears they will slow her down, warning Jim that putting others ahead of one's own personal survival is a sure way to get killed.

The next morning, Frank informs Jim and Selena that supplies, particularly water, are dwindling, and shows them a pre-recorded radio broadcast loop transmitted by soldiers near Manchester who claim to have "the answer to infection." The survivors board Frank's cab in search of the blockade and during the trip bond with one another. Selena's steely resolve begins to soften, while Jim's experiences on the trip begin to toughen him up. When the four reach the deserted blockade, Frank is infected by blood from a dripping corpse and is immediately shot by hidden soldiers, who then commandeer the cab and take Selena, Jim and Hannah to a fortified mansion under the command of Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston). As Hannah grieves, Selena and Jim reach out to each other romantically. Jim discovers that West's "answer to infection" involves waiting for the Infected to starve to death, while giving hope for community survival by forcing sexual servitude on the female survivors. Shocked, Jim attempts to escape with Selena and Hannah, but is caught by the soldiers, along with Sergeant Farrell (Stuart McQuarrie), who disagrees with the Major's plan. While Jim and Farrell are imprisoned for the night, Farrell theorises that there is no worldwide epidemic, but rather that the island of Great Britain has been quarantined.

The next day, as two soldiers lead the prisoners into the woods to be executed, Selena and Hannah are trapped by the soldiers. While the two executioners fight about how to kill Farrell, Jim escapes over a wall. He observes the contrails of a jet aircraft flying high overhead and realizes that someone in the outside world is still functioning. After luring West and one of his men to the blockade, Jim runs back to the soldiers' headquarters where he unleashes Mailer, an infected soldier that West kept chained outside for observation. Mailer attacks the soldiers in the mansion, while Jim stealthily skulks around, killing a soldier and manoeuvring around the growing number of Infected. Selena, held hostage by the last uninfected soldier, fears that Jim may have been infected, watches him savagely beat the soldier to death and hesitantly prepares to attack him; Jim quips, "That was longer than a heartbeat," and the two kiss passionately. Hannah finds them and the trio run to Frank's cab, only to encounter West, who shoots Jim. Hannah commandeers the cab and backs it up to the front door, where infected Mailer pulls him though the rear window and drags him screaming into the house. The three then escape as Mailer shrieks into the night.

Selena and Hannah rush Jim into a deserted hospital, where Selena performs life-saving emergency procedures. Twenty-eight days later, a bandaged Jim is shown waking up in recovery again, this time on one side of a double bed in a remote cottage. Downstairs, he finds Selena sewing large swaths of fabric when Hannah appears. The three rush outside and unfurl a huge cloth banner, adding the final letter to the word "HELLO" laid out on the meadow. As an approaching military jet flies over the landscape, a pair of the infected are shown lying helplessly by the road, dying of starvation. After the jet zooms past the three waving survivors and their distress sign, Selena wonders aloud, "Do you think he saw us this time?"

Alternative endings

The DVD extras include three alternative endings, all of which end with Jim dying. Two were filmed, while the third, a more radical departure, was only storyboarded.

Jim dies at the hospital

In this ending, after Jim is shot, Selena and Hannah still rush him to the deserted hospital, but the scene is extended. Selena, with Hannah's assistance, attempts to perform life-saving procedures but cannot revive Jim. Selena is heartbroken, and Hannah, distraught, looks to her for guidance. Selena tells Hannah that they will go on; they pick up their guns and walk away from Jim's lifeless body. Selena and Hannah, fully armed, walk through the operating room doors, which gradually stop swinging.

On the DVD commentary, Boyle and Garland explain that this was the original ending of the film's first cut, which was tested with preview audiences. It was ultimately rejected for seeming too bleak; the final exit from the hospital was intended to imply Selena and Hannah's survival, whereas test audiences felt that the women were marching off to certain death. Boyle and Garland express a preference for this alternate ending, calling it the "true ending". They comment that this ending brought Jim full circle, as he starts and finishes the story in bed in a deserted hospital.

This ending was added in the theatrical release of the film beginning on 25th July 2003, placed after the credits and prefaced with the words "what if..." [cite web
title=Plotting alternative film endings

Rescue coda without Jim

This ending, for which only a rough edit was completed, is an alternate version of the potential rescue sequence shown at the very end of the released film. Here, the scenes are identical, except that this ending was intended to be placed after the first alternative ending where Jim dies, so he is absent. When Selena is sewing one of the banner letters in the cottage, she is seen facetiously talking to a chicken instead of Jim. Only Selena and Hannah are seen waving to the jet flying overhead in the final shots.

"Radical Alternative Ending"

The "Radical Alternative Ending" was not filmed and is presented on the DVD as a series of illustrated storyboards with voiceovers by Boyle and Garland. This ending would have taken the story in a radically different direction from the film's midpoint. When Frank is infected at the military blockade near Manchester, the soldiers do not enter the story. Instead, Jim, Selena and Hannah are somehow able to restrain the infected Frank, hoping they will find a cure for the virus nearby as suggested in the radio broadcast. They soon discover that the blockade had protected a large medical research complex, the same one featured in the first scene of the film where the virus was developed.

Inside, the party is relieved to find a scientist self-barricaded inside a room with food and water. He won't open the door because he fears they will take his food, although he does admit that the "answer to infection is here." Unfortunately, he refuses to talk further because he doesn't want to make an emotional attachment to people who will soon be dead. After hours of failed attempts to break through the door or coax the man out, Jim eventually brings Hannah to the door and explains Frank's situation. The scientist reluctantly tells them that Frank can only be cured with a complete blood transfusion, and supplies them with the necessary equipment. After learning that he is the only match with Frank's blood type, Jim nobly sacrifices himself so that Frank can survive with his daughter. Just as his journey began, Jim is left alone in the abandoned medical facility, and Selena, Hannah and Frank move into the room with the scientist as a horde of the infected breach the complex. Strapped to the table as the chimp had been in the opening scene, the computer monitors showing death and destruction come to life around a thrashing, infected Jim.

Garland and Boyle explain that they conceptualised this ending to see what the film would be like if they did not expand the focus beyond the core four survivors. They ultimately decided against it because the idea of a total blood replacement as a cure was not credible, especially because the film had already established, as Boyle said in the DVD commentary, that it "didn't make much sense" since one drop of blood can infect a person: "What would we do? Drain him of blood and scrub his veins with bleach?"


On the DVD, director Boyle explains that, with the aim of preserving the suspension of disbelief, relatively unknown actors were cast in the film. Male lead Cillian Murphy had at the time starred primarily in small independent films, while female lead Naomie Harris had acted on British television as a child. However, actors Christopher Eccleston and Brendan Gleeson were somewhat well-known character actors. Eccleston, who went on to greater fame for his portrayal of the Ninth Doctor in the 2005 series of "Doctor Who", had already appeared in films such as "The Others", "Gone in 60 Seconds", "eXistenZ" and "Shallow Grave" (another film directed by Boyle). Likewise, Gleeson had appeared in several films, including "Braveheart", "Lake Placid" and "The General".


"28 Days Later" features scenes set in normally bustling parts of London such as Westminster Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, Horse Guards Parade and Oxford Street. In order to depict these locations as desolate, the film crew closed off sections of street for minutes at a time, usually in early morning to minimise disruption. Portions of the film were shot on a Canon XL1 digital video camera. [cite news | first=Douglas | last=Bankston | url=http://www.theasc.com/magazine/july03/sub/index.html | title=Anthony Dod Mantle, DFF injects the apocalyptic 28 Days Later with a strain of digital video. | publisher=American Cinematographer | date=2003-07-01 | accessdate=2007-05-01 ] DV cameras are much smaller and more manoeuvrable than traditional film cameras, which would have been impractical on such brief shoots.

The scenes of the M1 motorway completely devoid of traffic were also filmed within very limited time periods. A mobile police roadblock slowed traffic sufficiently to leave a long section of carriageway empty while the scene was filmed. The section depicted in the film was actually located at Milton Keynes, nowhere near Manchester.Fact|date=May 2007 For the London scene where Jim walks by the overturned double-decker bus, the film crew placed the bus on its side and removed it when the shot was finished, all within 20 minutes.Fact|date=May 2007

Much of the filming took place prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, and in the audio commentary Boyle notes the parallel between the "missing persons" flyers seen at the beginning of the film and similar flyers posted in New York City in the wake of 9/11. Boyle adds that his crew probably would not have been granted permission to close off Whitehall for filming after the terrorist attacks in New York.

While travelling around London at the beginning of the film, Jim picks up a copy of the "Evening Standard". The front page created by the film makers carries a single headline printed in large font: "EVACUATION", with the sub-heading "Mass exodus of British people causes global chaos." Above the main headline, there are three small subheadings with page numbers- "Who will stop them?", "Refugee Crisis Looms" and "Dangerous Animals". Below the headline, the front page contains a list of London's boroughs with evacuation information on the left side with the main body containing the following smaller headlines, in order:

* "Blair declares a state of emergency"
* "Military ordered 'shoot to kill'"
* "Government Check points overrun"
* "UN to build giant refugee camps"
* "Chaos at all London airports"
* "Government call for calm"
* "U.S. Military patrol waters around Britain"
* "All roads around London grid-locked"

The character Jim was English in the original script, and several scenes were actually shot with Cillian Murphy using an English accent. Due to Murphy's request, he continued the shoot using his own Irish accent, dubbing over his English-accented lines in post-production.Fact|date=August 2007

The mansion used in the film was Trafalgar Park near Salisbury. Many rooms in the house, including the Cipriani-painted music room and the main hall, were filmed with minimal set decoration. The scenes occurring upstairs were actually filmed downstairs, as the mansion's owner resided upstairs.Fact|date=June 2007

One month before the film was released in cinemas, various newspapers included a short panel comic book style promotion for the film, in which various scenes showed a chaotic London during those 27 days with people trying to escape the city en masse.

Style and inspiration

On the DVD commentary, Boyle and Garland frequently call it a post apocalyptic, horror and zombie film, commenting on scenes that were specific references to George A. Romero's original Dead trilogy. However, during the initial marketing of the film Boyle did try to distance the film from such labels. Boyle identified John Wyndham's "The Day of the Triffids" as Garland's original inspiration for the story.Cite web|url=http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,,2073292,00.html|title=A capital place for panic attacks|accessdate=2007-05-12|publisher=Guardian News and Media Limited|year=2007|author=Mark Kermode|format=html] Danny Boyle says that the film isn't a science fiction horror film but rather a drama in that environment.


The film was a considerable success at the box office and became highly profitable on a budget of about £5 million ($9.8 million). In the UK, it took £6.1 million ($11.89 million), while in the US it became a surprise hit, taking over $45 million despite a limited release at fewer than 1,500 screens across the country. The film garnered around $82.7 million worldwide.

Critical views of the film were very positive; the review site RottenTomatoes rates it 88%. [ [http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/28_days_later/ 28 Days Later (2003)] , RottenTomatoes.com. Accessed 5 April 2008.] The "L.A. Times" described it as a "stylistic tour de force", and efilmcritic.com called it "raw, blistering and joyously uncompromising". On Metacritc it received a 73 (out of 100) based on 39 reviews. [ [http://www.metacritic.com/video/titles/28dayslater?q=28%20days%20later] ]

"Bravo" awarded it the 100th spot on their "The 100 Scariest Movie Moments". [ cite web | title = The 100 Scariest Movie Moments | url = http://www.bravotv.com/The_100_Scariest_Movie_Moments/index.shtml ] In 2007, "Stylus Magazine" named it the second best Zombie movie of all time. [ cite web | title = Stylus Magazine’s Top 10 Zombie Films of All Time | url = http://www.stylusmagazine.com/articles/movie_review/stylus-magazines-top-10-zombie-films-of-all-time.htm ]

oundtrack and score

The film's score was composed by John Murphy and was released in a score/song compilation in 2003. A heavily edited version of the song "East Hastings" by the post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor appears in the film, but the track is excluded from the soundtrack, because Boyle only obtained the rights to use it in the film.Cite web|url=http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,6903,836839,00.html|title=Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Adjusting to Fame After "28 Days Later"|accessdate=2006-11-26|publisher=Guardian News and Media Limited|year=2002|author=Kitty Empire|format=html]

"28 Days Later: The Soundtrack Album" was released on 17th June 2003. It features most of John Murphy's original score and tracks from Brian Eno, Grandaddy and Blue States.

Death metal band The Rotted (previously known as Gorerotted) Included the title track "28 Days Later" on their album Get Dead or Die Trying, released in 2008.


A sequel, "28 Weeks Later", was released on 11th May 2007. [cite news | first=Michael | last=Gingold | url=http://www.fangoria.com/news_article.php?id=2322 | title=July 14: Fox sets HILLS II and more release dates | publisher=Fangoria | date=2006-07-14 | accessdate=2006-09-01 ] Danny Boyle and Alex Garland took producing roles alongside Andrew Macdonald. The plot revolves around the arrival of American troops about seven months after the incidents in the original film, attempting to revitalise a nearly desolate Britain. The cast for this sequel includes Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Amanda Walker and Idris Elba.

Fox Atomic Comics, in association with HarperCollins, has published a graphic novel bridging the time gap between "28 Days Later" and "28 Weeks Later", entitled "", written by Steve Niles.

In March of 2007, "28 Days Later" director and "28 Weeks Later" executive producer Danny Boyle was interviewed by an Irish radio station, where he claimed to be interested in making a third film in the series, "28 Months Later". [ cite web | title = 28 Months Later? | url = http://www.moviehole.net/news/20070328_28_months_later.html ]


The film has inspired a number of spoofs:
*Comedy short film "48 Hours Later" (2003) follows the same plot of a man waking to a plague-infested world. [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0400077/ "48 Hours Later" on IMDb] ]
*Malaysian comedy short "28 Hours Later" (2005) relocates the basic plot of "28 Days Later" to Kuala Lumpur. [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0480330/ "28 Hours Later" on IMDb] ]
*"Team Tiger Awesome" created a series of videos called "28 Day Slater". While the title is clearly a play on "28 Days Later", the plots actually parody "Saved by the Bell" and feature a fictional representation of Mario Lopez, who believes that he is Slater, his character from "Saved by the Bell", during the month of February (a 28-day month). [ [http://www.ifilm.com/video/2717758/collection/2363/channel/comedy "28 Day Slater", episode 1: "The Job Interview"] , iFilm]
*At the conclusion of the 2004 film "Shaun of the Dead", a comedy that parodies the zombie film genre, a television broadcaster (voiced by the film's director) can be heard stating that "...initial reports that the virus was caused by rage infected monkeys has now been dismissed as complete bullshit". [cite web |url=http://www.cinecon.com/news.php?id=0409221 |title=Interview: Director Edgar Wright on "Shaun of the Dead" |publisher=Cinema Confidential]
*The Twisted Toyfare Theatre comic made a parody of the film in issue #76, titled "28 Smurfs Later", that follows the same plot of the film but with smurfs.


External links

*imdb title|id=0289043|title=28 Days Later
*" [http://www.metacritic.com/video/titles/28dayslater?q=28%20Days%20Later 28 Days Later] " at Metacritic

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