when i first saw the trailer for 28 days later, i figured it was some low-budget independent post-apocalyptic thriller, didn't really think much of it, wasn't registering on my movie radar despite getting some coverage in fangoria magazine. then i heard it was a zombie movie. for real? that perked my interest real quick, as i have a special affinity towards movies about the undead. then i heard it wasn't really about zombies, but zombie-like creatures. regardless, i wanted to find out for myself.

early in the movie we learn that the "zombies" are a result of some experimental virus escaping from a botched animal rescue attempt at a lab somewhere in london. victims transform into these mindless killing machines seconds after infection, oozing tainted blood throughout, spreading the virus even more as they go berzerk and attack anything else. we follow jim, a bike courier who wakes up in an empty hospital from a coma 28 days after the start of the infection. london is completely empty while jim quickly realizes that something happened while he was in the hospital. soon he has his first encounter with this something inside a dark church, bashing an infected priest lurching at him. the zombies only come out at nights, and jim meets up with some other survivors while being chased by a gang of infected.

the film is shot in this grainy digital camcorder style, reminded me of the blair witch project, but not as jerky and nowhere as annoying. as far as zombie movies go, this one is more cerebral. the focus isn't so much on gruesome graphic depiction of zombie violence (which there isn't really that much in this movie, it's all very much implied), as it is on personal relationships and how it affects the few remaining survivors.

in terms of scare factor, the movie definitely has its moments. the sense of tension was so strong that i was pretty much riveted to my seat, anticipating nightfall, anticipating another zombie attack. the sound was scary too, not sure if it's because we sat so close to the front of theatre, but the noises were frightfully loud and jarring.

without giving too much anyway, i wasn't going to recommend the movie initially because it seemed like it the film was heading into an unhappy ending. but when the movie finally ended, i was very happy with the conclusion. there's so much bleakness through the film, i think it's good to end it on a positive note, give the audience some hope. the ending is also a bit of a surprise since you're almost rooting for the zombies over the humans, who in the end you kind of question which one's worse, the living or the undead.

i'd recommend 28 days later for zombie genre afficionados. though technically these aren't really zombies (they're still alive, just infected with a virus that renders them into mindless monsters), the zombie spirit is there and it gives the genre a good run for the money.

i woke up at 8:40am this morning, unable to sleep anymore, the rising humidity and temperature both to blame. on what would be the hottest day of the week (temperatures in the 90's), i instant messaged julie (one of only a handful of people who're free during the week to take on such excursions) about going to the beach, but didn't get back any response. i thought about going by myself, but since i don't know how to swim, i figured it'd be better if i went with someone who did. minutes later i got a frantic phone call from julie, asking if i was still going to the beach. today being so hot, it was the perfect beach day. the beach would turn out to be walden pond, chosen because of its close proximity and inexpensive parking fee. i went across the street to buy some drinks (grape gatorade) before julie arrived to pick me up 15 minutes later.

as to be expected, walden pond was crowded with people, but we found some empty stone steps to camp out on nevertheless. julie didn't hestitate in jumping into the inviting water, while i was a bit little slower, putting sunblock on my shoulders and head, wearing my flippers, before gradually walking into the pond. the temperature was perfect, wasn't too cold, wasn't too warm, just right, a uniform mildness.

when came back out of the water and lounged around on the stone steps. my photo taking of some local insects caught the attention of two little boys. one of them was a real nature fan himself (wearing a shark tooth necklace), and told us how he had just caught a turtle on the other side of the pond and a spring peeper (frog) but accidently squished it. they had also seen the wild kois living in the pond, telling us how one of them looks like a cow. they helped me spot insects to take photos of, including a crawfish that the boy naturalist is happened to uncover when he casually flipped over an underwater rock. boy naturalist also told me i should've came with him to alaska, because there was a lot of nature. it was weird, as if natural appreciation was some sort of shared language, and despite the vast age difference, through our love of the outdoors we were able to bond. his friend was only mildly interested in nature, and kept on insisting that they go swimming instead. the boy naturalist's younger cousin came wandering by as well, carrying with him a toy shovel. the cousin has some issues, like everytime we'd look at something, he'd get all crazy and scream, "i hate that!" and go berzerk with the shovel, smashing whatever we were looking at. the boy naturalist, rightly embarassed, put an arm around his cousin to calm him down and said apologetically, "my cousin." for a little kid, he sure had his act together, julie and i were both very impressed (which is sort of rare, julie usually doesn't like children very much). they disappeared, then came back later with a frog inside a bucket. the spastic cousin reached into the bucket to get the frog, which prompted the boy naturalist to utter, "be careful! it's delicate." when they look off once again, the cousin was overheard saying, "i hate frogs!" the boy naturalist replied, "you don't hate frogs," in which the cousin returned, "i don't hate frogs." we saw them one last time when they swam by us with some snorkeling equipment.

unknown bug

baby netwing





widow skimmer


spring peeper
in bucket

spring peeper
on fingertip

our final hour or so at walden pond was spent fooling around. julie shared a nature bar with me, and i ate it otter style, floating on my back with the snack on my stomach. i also lounged on the water as if at a spa, making a little pillow for myself out of rocks and put stones on my eyes like cucumber slices. next, we wore our towels in creative ways, julie impersonating a muslim woman, me wrapping my towel to form a turban. we finally left at 4:30pm, both of us slightly more sunburnt than when we first arrived. during the car ride back, i felt this tremendous sense of accomplishment. even though we didn't work today, what we did was vastly more significant and important, as we were out enjoying life. if you can swing it, i definitely recommend taking the next hot day off and going out to the beach. of course it's much easier when you're freelancing and can set your own schedule. not having a steady job does have some perks, you know.

i quickly got changed once i got home then headed back out again, this time to park street, to meet up with dan and mike to go see 28 days later, supposedly a zombie movie. if a film has zombies, barbarians, ninjas, pirates, or people kicking dogs in the head, you can be pretty sure we'll be going to see it in a theatre. i met them at the boston common theatre, and sat very close to the screen so we could maximize the horror that would ensue throughout the course of the next 2 hours.

after the movie, we all went our separate ways. i was glad it was still warm outside, it was freezing inside the movie theatre. i came home with the intention of cooking some dinner, but i didn't want to run the stove and make the house hotter than it already is, so i ended up going to that new sandwich shop around the corner to pick up a buffalo chicken sandwich. it was okay, nothing spectular, it's an option for those times when i don't feel like making anything. later, i took out the trash and moved my motorcycle (this morning i finally got a ticket for parking illegally ($15), it's about time city of cambridge!). i also ordered some memory for my father's new G4, his 120gb secondary hard drive arriving today.

diana krall - on the sunny side of the street