It's like AMC's The Walking Dead without the crappy parts.
28 Days Later is literally the best the zombie genre has to offer. Focusing on the humanhorrors in the post-apocalypse, it is the zombie story AMC's The Walking Dead hopes and prays to be every Sunday night, yet few episodes even get close to touching Danny Boyle’s disturbing film. Whether it's a father telling his daughter to stay back and that he loves her, because he's been infected and is about to turn, a group of morally broken soldiers about to do the unthinkable to a teenage girl in a world gone mad, or the moment when Cillian Murphy pushes his thumbs through another man's eye sockets and is, for a moment, indistinguishable from the vicious “infected” he's been fleeing from throughout the entire film, 28 Days Later is an intelligent, powerful, and primal film that shows the true potential of both the zombie and horror genres to deliver meaningful and moving dramatic pieces that explore and examine the human condition with amazing grace and deftness.
Alex Garland . . . a name you probably don't know, but should.
Ever since I read Garland’s first novel, The Beach, I have loved his writing. The Beach is like The Lord of the Flies for the MTV generation, and Garland’s writing since has continued this trend of smart, cutting-edge concepts told with a sense of harsh realism with films like Sunshine, Never Let Me Go, and Dredd (as well as an un-produced first draft screenplay adaptation of the mega hit video game Halo). If you want my advice, you should never hesitate to pick up something with Garland’s name attached to the writing.
The whole zombie/infected debate.
There’s a passionate faction of zombie fans that adamantly insists 28 Days Later is not a zombie film, because it deals with infected humans who are still alive and zombies are, by their very nature, the walking dead. While I can understand this argument, it is a paper-thin defense used to dismiss 28 Days Later as something outside the genre instead of the brilliant, modern twist on the genre that it truly is. If it walks (or runs) like a zombie and sounds like a zombie, what are your really going to call it? Is Martin not a vampire film? This argument is one thing I would like to see stay dead and buried when it comes to the zombie genre.
Thank you, Danny Boyle.
Boyle’s influence on the final result can not go unmentioned. He’s a brilliant director who has delivered time and again with films like Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours or his recent stage production of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller. 28 Days Later is the type of film that makes an Alien fan like myself shed tears over the fact that Boyle almost directed Alien: Resurrection. My . . . what could have been . . .
That brilliant score.
The intense “infection” theme that plays through John Murphy’s score is the kind that will scratch its way into your brain and remain there for days after viewing the film. That big, ol’ shark in Jaws wouldn’t be much without his theme, and I believe those infected with the rage virus would be just the same without their tune (even if they lend it out on occasion to Big Daddy in Kick-Ass).
An excellent sequel and plenty of room for more.
If you become addicted to 28 Days Later the way many fanboys and fangirls have, there is plenty to feed the hunger. The film has a very excellent (and terrifying) sequel called 28 Weeks Later, which features performances by Jeremy Renner and Idris Elba.
There were also several comic book series taking place in the 28 Days Later universe, including a graphic novel by Steve Niles bridging the two films called 28 Days Later: The Aftermath.