Know Your Monsters: 28 Days Later (2002)

Zombie movies are an obvious staple in the healthy diet of any horror fan. It’s a subgenre that seems to retain some of its charm regardless of the era it was made in or the budget that went into the project. However, trying to share these gems with non-horror fans can sometimes be a chore. You’re bound to hear a litany of excuses, like “I don’t like gore,” or “The heroes are always too dumb,” or “I hate fun and good times and I eat plain, dry toast with nothing on it.”  

That’s where 28 Days Later really shines. It isn’t just a great zombie horror movie; it’s a flat-out great movie, regardless of a genre. It’s got a tight script set in a welldeveloped world with defined characters experiencing clear and necessary changes throughout their journey, all while delivering a thought-provoking but not overly preachy message about human morality. It just happens to also include zombies (er, rather, zombie-like creatures). 

That’s not to say the zombies don’t do their share of the lifting, though. As with most successful monsters, the draw of the Infected is that they look so humanlike. Expert makeup and prosthetics application allows them to retain the qualities that remind us of the healthy people they once were. This gives not only a visual shock upon seeing their grotesque figures, but an emotional shock as well – how can something that looks so similar to someone I love want so badly to destroy me? There’s certainly a place in the zombie genre for unrecognizable levels of decomposition and decay, but these more intact zombies just pack a different kind of punch.

 

Now it’s time to break these monsters down and see how I would handle them in the wild: 

The Infected

Height:

Human height but a little hunched over

 

Physical description:

Red eyes, tattered clothes, scabs, open wounds, patchy hair, thick mud-sweat mixture coating outer layer of clothing 

 

Weapons/technology:

Fists, feet, teeth, nails

 

Abilities:

Stealth, speed, agility, coherent speech (in rare instances), hypersensitivity to light, gag reflex, olympic-level quick-twitch strength

 

Weaknesses:

Machetes and fire – that’s pretty much it. Oh, and if you can outsmart them, you can weaponize them against your other enemies.

  

 

Tendencies:

Will lie in wait for weeks at a time, presumably wandering through woods and marshlands or just straight up running into walls somewhere. Then once a not-so-smart person decides to make too much noise or light a candle, they will utilize their NFL Combine-esque sprint speed to ambush and annihilate

 

My strategy:

Isolate and thrive alone. As Major West said in the film, the situation with The Infected is really just about people killing people. So how to avoid getting killed? Avoid the people. Look, I’m well built for this lifestyle. Getting away from humans is the underlying motivation behind most of my actions already. I’d be more than happy to find a cozy loft somewhere in London and never leave for the rest of my life. As for food? I don’t know, maybe grow sunflowers on the roof? They’re easy enough to grow that not even I can mess them up, and the seeds provide a stable mix of protein, carbs, and fat. I’m all set.

 

Expected outcome:

I survive with flying colors. So much so that even when the world returns back to normal, I still probably stick to my strategy.

 

Alternate ending:

I get sick of bland sunflower seeds and venture into a grocery store in search of ranch seasoning. I predictably get mauled.