The Thing I Like About …

28 Weeks Later: the message of hopelessness.

The sequel to 28 Days Later has good acting, a reasonable premise, and excellent special effects. It is a fine entry into the zombie-apocalypse genre. I can find nothing to dislike about it; in fact, the scene in the pitch darkness, when the audience can hear Rage moving from one side of the crowd to the other, is extremely effective.  The film is … just fine.

But I didn’t really like it.

I didn’t like that they broke the quarantine and spread Rage to Europe. I didn’t like that the child was a target. I didn’t like how Cillian Murphy wasn’t in it, but that’s probably just me. I didn’t like the hopelessness that they snatched out of the jaws of triumph.

Until I considered that maybe that was the point.

Jim, Selene and Hannah have to face extraordinary loss, hardship, and heartache to survive the first film. They have to carve love and family out of a decimated world … and they do that. They do that. They allow themselves to feel love and joy again, and they are rescued, going to a new life in (based on the accents of the pilots who find them) the U.S. or Canada. They have to let go of everything – literally everything – that they ever had or knew or cared about, in order to survive and thrive in a new reality.

In 28 Weeks Later, everyone decides that you can go back again. They decide that you can ignore reality and linger in a nostalgic past; you can have everything be the same as it was, even after it changes. They decide that all that stuff we learned in the first film is basically poo. And the consequences?

Death, despair, hopelessness, chaos, and outbreak.

The entire second film revolves around blowing up London (which looked totally amazing!) and reminding us why we were happy with the ending of the first one: Jim and Selena and Hannah move forward. They let go of things that are, well, already gone. They allow change, and movement, and newness. They live now. The people in the second film … do not. They’re trying to recapture a past that died six months ago when that girl let the monkey out of the cage. They’re living in that past, and they become as dead as it is.

After seeing 28 Weeks Later, I imagined Selena and Jim and Hannah sitting in Toronto or Texas or somewhere, watching the news about the destruction of London and the outbreak in France … and shaking their heads, and saying, “F’ing morons.”

“You can’t go back again.”

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Bit O’Blog

The Eleventh Hour

My friend Bob used to work as a cleaner for (furnished) university apartments.  One day, after a tenant left for “medical reasons,” Bob was sent in to clean up, particularly the couch – one arm of the couch was completely, extraordinarily drenched in blood.  The blood had settled deep into the material, but Bob set about pulling it up with the extractor … over and over and over again, for hours.

He said that the experience filled him with great hope.  As you might imagine, I asked him why.

He explained that the “medical reasons” were that the tenant had tried to commit suicide.  He had entered a hole of darkness and despair, alone in his living room with seemingly insurmountable pain, and he had slashed his wrists.  But in truly the eleventh hour, when so much blood had come out of him that it was a wonder he was still breathing, he decided he wanted to live.  He called 911.  He pressed his wrists into the arm of the couch to stop the bleeding.  He waited with all of his weight pressed onto his arms and onto the arm of the couch, until paramedics came and saved him.

Bob saw hope not just because the man lived; he saw hope because the man decided to live – that in the darkest moment, when all seemed desolate and pointless, he found a light to follow.  Bob saw the hope there, the second chance, the course correction.  He saw the struggle to climb out of despair, the success achieved when failure seemed certain.  He saw this amidst all that blood, and it gave him hope that the challenges and obstacles we face are surmountable, no matter how bleak they may seem.

And he kept pulling up the blood with the extractor, until the water ran clear.