Secret Cinema Secret Cinema presents:
28 Days Later
dir Danny Boyle
scr Alex Garland
with Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, Ricci Harnett, Stuart McQuarrie, Noah Huntley, Luke Mably, Leo Bill, Ray Panthaki, Marvin Campbell
release UK 1.Nov.02, US 27.Jun.03
Secret Cinema 14.Apr.29.May.16
Fox 02/UK 1h53
Secret Cinema: 28 Days Later
Don't wake up: Secret Cinema brings the zombie apocalypse to life
Secret Cinema: 28 Days Later
Secret Cinema: 28 Days Later
Secret Cinema presents
28 Days Later

runs until 29.May.16
Ticket info:
Secret Cinema

28 Days Later
Post-apocalyptic love. Harris and Murphy
See also:
28 Weeks Later (2007)
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Secret Cinema: 28 Days Later After the goosebump-inducing wow factor of Secret Cinema's last major installations (Back to the Future and Star Wars), expectations are high for this staging of Danny Boyle's iconic, genre-busting 2002 zombie classic. But visitors should keep their expectations in check. While the experience is a lot of fun, and elaborately staged, it lacks those jaw-dropping elements that audiences want from Secret Cinema. And it feels rather cash-draining too.

You enter an isolated NSH hospital in a secret location, where you must be wearing scrubs or protective clothing (both are available online beforehand or for sale at the gate). Medical workers in surgical masks shout instructions as they direct you to a vaccination area, where you can purchase "medicine" (cocktails in bottles) before you're herded into a recovery room. The effects of the oral vaccine hit you with blurred vision, slurred sound and utter blackness, followed by an enjoyable half hour of mayhem as you are rushed through a series of messy corridors and stairwells recreating scenes from the movie. It's like a frantic haunted house, complete with religious fanatics and marauding zombies.

Finally you reach a safe zone, where you can buy food and drinks and roam around looking for something to do while you wait for something else to happen, namely a brief frantic disco. Finally, you enter a cleverly themed cinema to watch the movie on huge screens. As always, the screening is accompanied with live-performance elements, although these are on a very low-key scale compared with previous Secret Cinema events.

Clearly a lot of work has gone into setting this up. The various sets are impressively chaotic, as is the dedication of the large cast of performers, most of whom either chase you or aggressively shout instructions. There are some superb recreations of moments from the film, and a nice sense of physicality. But there's very little to focus on, especially with the relentlessly low lighting and claustrophobic spaces. But as opposed to previous events, there are no cool surprises to discover along the way.

In other words, it's impossible not to think that the organisers could have done a lot more to bring this film to interactive life. It's still an immersive event that lasts several hours, but it elicits smiles rather than screams. And the cost of the ticket, costume, food and drink make it a significant investment. Fans of the movie will probably think it's worth it.

TIPS: Wear comfortable running shoes and clothing that you won't mind being drenched in blood along the way (it doesn't wash out). Wear warm under-layers as the cinema is chilly; there's no cloakroom, so you'll be carrying your coat if you bring one. And eat before you go, as options are slim.

cert 18 themes, violence, language 17.Apr.16

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the days are numbered You could call this Outbreak of the Living Dead, as it takes the idea of a deadly virus and merges it with marauding zombies. Only these zombies don't stumble around blankly; they run and spit and snarl and flash their beady red eyes!

The film opens with a brief prologue in which we see a virus called rage accidentally "liberated" from an animal-testing lab. Then 28 days later a young man named Jim (Murphy, a Jim Caviezel lookalike) wakes up from a coma and staggers into a very empty London, clueless as to what has happened. He meets a few uninfected survivors and links up with Selena (Harris) to battle the undead. After hearing a remote radio broadcast, they team up with a father and daughter (Gleeson and Burns) to travel north to join a group of soldiers led by the slightly wild-eyed Major West (Eccleston), who has a theory about how to survive.

It's unclear why Boyle shot this using what looks like a consumer video camera, because the images are slightly blurred and the action scenes are hard to see in any detail. Fortunately, he has a terrific eye, so the film as a whole is very well directed, with clever camera work that builds the tension and actually jolts us out of our seats a few times. The cast is natural and solid, letting us identify with the characters and injecting some humour just when we need it.

Screenwriter Garland is obviously enamored with both the undead and mentally unstable control freaks, as the plot changes into something altogether different from your garden variety zombie movie. Like his novel The Beach, the story is startlingly gruesome, with one clever twist and a bunch of truly nasty developments that don't sit right with the characters (for the record, Boyle significantly altered the plot in his film of The Beach). This gruesome plotting combines with the gritty visual style to make the film an unsettling, creepy experience, complete with very strange sound editing and eerie musical choices that accent the offbeat post-apocalyptic imagery remarkably. But this just makes us wish Boyle had shot on film so we could see it more clearly.

cert 18 themes, violence, language, gore 10.Oct.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Secret Cinema: 28 Days Later Lyford Thomas, Cumbria: "Boyle's take on post-apocalyptic Britain is entertaining but ultimately forgettable partly due to a clumsy script. The most impressive aspects of the film are the infected who move at lightening speed and attack with ferocity. They are a far cry from traditional zombies who walk and groan at snail's pace, and this makes the film genuinely frightening in places. And the shots of a deserted London are fantastic, giving us a sense of the end of mankind as we know it. What disappointed me was the characterisation. I felt little for the people who were attempting to find salvation and cliches were coming thick and fast. Having been brave enough to shoot on DV and to twist the zombie genre slightly it would have been to nice to see more originality in the second half of the film. I think Boyle comes out with flying colours, not so sure about Alex Garland though." (25.Oct.02)

TJ Hatton, London: "Definitely one of the most compelling films to emerge from the post-apocalyptic genre. The opening scenes of survivor Jim shambling in disbelief through a deserted London are genuinely haunting. The sheer ferocity and unexpectedness of each and every zombie attack means that there are plenty of truly terrifying moments, so even the quieter moments do not enable the viewer to relax. Saying that, the film does contain a few Hollywood-esque moments of absurdity. Boyle's message of 'unite to survive' is hammered home at every available opportunity. However, some deftness of touch is showed in the portrayal of how rapidly the order and discipline of Major West (Eccleston) and his soldiers degenerates into anarchy and brutality. In spite of the often grim and gritty subject matter, the slow motion shot of horses galloping through the Lake District is the film's central message of hope. Whatever insanity mankind inflicts on itself, the world turns regardless." (9.Nov.02)

© 2002 & 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall