Horror fans are a passionate bunch who are happy to debate a number of topics, including trying to define what does and doesn’t belong in specific subgenres. Take, for example, the 2002 film 28 days later, and whether or not it can be considered a zombie movie. According to writer Alex Garland, the film definitely belongs in the zombie subgenre, even if it doesn’t meet the criteria that some believe all zombie movies should adhere to. The film would go on to win the sequel 28 weeks laterleaving fans wondering if we might ever get a follow-up movie that jumps even further into the future.
“I have known for years and years that there have been debates about this,” Garland told Empire Review. “Whether or not it’s a zombie movie… It’s a zombie movie… Whatever technical discrepancies exist or not, they’re pretty much zombies.”
The film centers on a virus that spreads and amplifies a victim’s inherent rage, turning them into chaotic beasts that know nothing but violence. The virus spreads either through blood or saliva, spreading in the same way that most zombie viruses perpetuate themselves.
The main points of contention when it comes to whether 28 days later is actually a zombie movie is that, according to some audiences, a zombie must be a reanimated corpse. In the wake of George A. Romero night of the living dead in 1968, most zombie movies held to strict criteria of what it really meant to be a zombie movie, with raising the dead being a major element. From the monsters of 28 days later are definitely not dead and can be killed the same way a normal person would be killed, some consider it to be an infection or contagion movie instead of a zombie movie.
Although Romero’s films helped establish zombie lore, his were far from the first stories to tackle the subject. Some of the earliest examples of creatures in film, like white zombie and I walked with a zombie, use voodoo rituals as a source of individuals stripped of their humanity, reflecting society’s fears of becoming mindless drones. In addition to debates over whether zombies should be dead or not, a number of different zombie stories have entirely reimagined the source of zombification, from supernatural forces to scientific discoveries to visitors to a other world.
In 2018, Garland sadly questioned 28 months later never manage to move forward.
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