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Danny Boyle

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Posted on June 27, 2022

Sleeping off the Fever: The Dream Aesthetics of 28 Days Later

Guest Post

Growing up, horror was a carefully curated genre in my house. No fiction books and certainly no video games. Movies were only allowed if it was clearly a man in a monster suit. As I grew older I also grew more unsatisfied with this arrangement. Starting in middle school, I took greater and greater risks to smuggle new experiences home from the library in the form of Stephen King as well as more varied horror movies. This just so happened to also be the era of the zombie resurgence, with the slacker nerds of Shaun of the Dead and the mean punk spirit of the Dawn of the Dead remake, both movies I love for different reasons. However, it’s the 2002 outbreak that has stayed chasing after me all these years. Read more

Posted on March 20, 2020

“Just Like the Movies”: The Non-Diegetic Horror of the Coronavirus Outbreak

Guest Post

In one of the most memorably sublime scenes of Danny Boyle’s zombie masterpiece, 28 Days Later (2002), a nonplussed Jim (played by a young Cillian Murphy) wanders the deserted streets of London in scavenged hospital scrubs, having just awoken from a coma. Extreme long shots of Jim on an empty Westminster Bridge, in front of the Household Cavalry Museum, walking past St. Paul’s Cathedral, and alongside the Royal Exchange reveal the sobering extent of his isolation. Like him, we are learning that life has all but stopped in one of the busiest, most populated cities in the world, and, as far as we can tell, Jim may be the only person left alive, a realization that provokes dread for whatever caused society to fall into such a desolate state.

Images from this scene are not unlike what people around the world are experiencing today as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously bustling sites of activity have been transformed into urban wastelands, as recent photographs have shown. In one collection posted by CNN, a Jerusalem train station sits empty, Roman ruins in Italy stand quietly in the absence of tourists, and a lone individual walks the darkened halls of a Beijing shopping mall past dozens of shuttered storefronts. Whereas in 28 Days Later this lack of human activity is the result of an apocalyptic loss of life due to the “rage” virus, the non-diegetic global stasis we are experiencing is the result of mass social distancing and quarantine efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19. Read more

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