A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sequel to the zombie horror fest 28 Days Later is at least as scary and disturbing as the original. Extreme, graphic peril and violence are nonstop; sympathetic characters die, dysfunctional parents' love (or lack thereof) for each other and their children inspires ghastly death, and the ending removes any sense of optimism or hope that the right course has been taken. There are also sexual references and swearing -- if anyone's even paying attention to the dialogue in a movie like this.
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What's the story?
In a major escalation of the first movie's theme, the American military has been brought in to clean up and re-settle Britain, where almost everyone died from a rabies-like contagion that turned people into maniacal (but mortal) zombie psychopaths. If you remember how Her Majesty's soldiers reacted to the "rage virus" plague in the first film -- they were fascistic survivalist types prone to rape -- you won't be surprised that this movie doesn't exactly support the troops either. In fact, it seems to be at least partially a Gulf War/Vietnam metaphor about overconfident U.S. occupiers committing atrocities when they can't tell the civilians from the hostile enemy. After showing husband and father Don (Robert Carlyle) treacherously abandoning his wife during a zombie attack to save himself in the worst days of the epidemic, the movie revisits the ghostly, abandoned London of the first film. The infected have all starved to death, and the U.S. Army is enforcing a high-tech quarantine, resettling the British capital with refugees who waited out the crisis safely across the English Channel. One of the Americans' key local people turns out to be Don, who reunites with his son and daughter -- and lies to them about what really happened to their mother. Don's duplicity sets in motion a chain of events that ends in another outbreak of the rage virus, this time in the heart of this quarantine stronghold.If there's any hope for a cure, it lies with Don's children -- whose blood may have an antidote. A few Americans disobey orders to try to keep the kids alive in the face of deadly American snipers, poison gas, and incendiaries.
Is it any good?
This second dose of relentless zombie madness is not for the faint of heart. As in the first film, the message seems to be that while victims of the rage virus have no choice about turning into mindless zombies, the uninfected army commanders and soldiers should be more compassionate and human, since they still know right from wrong. Trouble is, it's becoming increasingly evident that in this world, no matter what you do, it only means one thing: more zombies, more murder, and more gore.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the enduring appeal of apocalyptic horror stories. What's the fascination? Is it that they present moral choices in sharp relief? Families can also talk about how the different characters respond to the quarantine -- and why it goes so badly wrong. Is a zero-tolerance policy the only solution?
- In theaters: May 10, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: October 9, 2007
- Cast: Catherine McCormack, Jeremy Renner, Robert Carlyle
- Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
- Studio: Fox Atomic
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence and gore, language and some sexuality/nudity.