The first "modern" (post-2000) zombie film that we covered in class this year was Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later. For this film, I wanted the class to investigate how these zombies differ from the ones we saw in Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, and explore what those differences might have to say about our culture. Here is the assignment (my model blog entry follows right after):
This week we will be watching Danny Boyle's 2002 film, 28 Days Later (NOT the sequel, 28 Weeks Later). One of the more interesting things about this movie is the way that it dramatically reimagines the zombie figure. It challenges, in some very overt ways (and some more subtle ones) the rules and conventions that we have become accustomed to in zombie fictions. For this blog, I want you to identify a few of the ways that these "zombies" differ from the ones we've seen in Romero's films. I would rather you pick the one or two differences that most interest you and focus on them, as opposed to attempting to catalog every way that these zombies are different and new. Once you have explored these differences, I want you to make an argument about what this shift in the presentation of the zombie indicates about our culture. Why did the zombie have to change to fit our current sensibilities? What does this new zombie say about us?
In another interesting departure from the conventions established by Romero, the “zombies” of 28 Days Later aren’t much more difficult to kill than an uninfected person. I mean, the infected the zombie figure clearly doesn’t react to pain the same way that people do; even engulfed in flames, they will continue their single minded pursuit of human destruction. They aren’t indestructible, though, and trauma to the brain is hardly the only way to dispatch them. Being riddled with bullets (1:04:19) or hacked up with a machete (28:17) is no less fatal to an infected person than it would be to anyone else. They can be burned, starved, or blown apart by claymores. Their tolerance for pain is higher, sure, even much higher, but there is nothing at all supernatural about these beings. Nothing more than sick, deranged people, these “zombies” are alive like us and die like we die.