We here at Horror Bound are big fans of horror. Duh. We are also big believers that any fun loving cinephile ought to be. Some people find it hard to get past their fears and some are overwhelmed at the sheer volume of horror out there. Including indie horror, which is wonderful, dozens of genre flicks come out every month. So, where does one start?
Well, we got you covered. This recurring article will be dolling out the 100 essential flicks from horror and will give you a heaping tablespoon of the various eras and sub-genres. It also just so happens that this list was created by the great minds behind the Shock Waves podcast, including Charlotte’s adoptive mother, Rebekah McKendry, so it’s basically a family list.
These are not ranked, but, rather, in alphabetical order. So, today we start with 28 Days Later.
Oooh boy, 28 Days Later. In our current horror environment zombies are about as common as clouds. There are books, comics, sites, conventions, costumes, TV Shows, toys, games and tons of movies. While many a Romero movie may have started that ball rolling, it’s current momentum came from the push of 28 Days Later. This movie is to the zombie sub-genre what Nirvana was to grunge. Not the first, but certainly the thing that made it explode.
Part of why that is the case is because the movie was so fresh and unexpected and part of it is simply that it’s a fantastic film, regardless of genre. As for the fresh bit, there really was nothing like it before and the approach the film took was fresh and engaging. For starters, the zombies weren’t seemingly witless, slow, shuffling moaners. Nah, these bastards have all the strength, speed and physical skills they had when they were human. They can see, they can smell, they can think and all their thinking about is eating your ass for dinner.
That is a much scarier prospect and part of why the zombies are so effective. Our protagonist wakes at the beginning of the film to find London empty. It seems very few people are left and with zombies like these it’s no wonder. This was all pulled off through fast paced editing, jarring cinematography and loads of running.
The uniqueness of the movie alone wouldn’t make it the classic it is, though. What gives it an enduring impact is the fantastic film-making skill that made it happen. The actors, especially the leads, give the characters a weight and gravity that make them incredibly relatable. They feel real, genuine and you want them to succeed and survive. The cast isn’t the only one’s knocking it out of the park, the crew is downright legendary.
There are many members of the crew worth highlighting, but I’m going to focus on Danny Boyle here. The cinematographer, production designer and composer are all worth investigating and following, so get on that. For now, let’s chat about Danny boy. Boyle has been killing it since his debut. Shallow Grave is a wonder and his follow up Trainspotting is a generational classic. Seriously, Trainspotting is one of the best movies of all time and is packed top to tail with imaginative film-making. If he stopped there, he’d be a legend, but he didn’t. He went on to make one fantastic picture after another, with several being nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and netting him an Oscar for best director.
So, with that guy at the helm, you know you’re in for a quality flick and 28 Days Later is no exception in his filmography. It’s well shot and well made from start to finish and a truly great piece of cinema. If you’re not too into zombies, like me, then this is a great place to start. You’ll get something that isn’t just good because of the gore and zombies, but is just, well, good on its own. It’s a great entrance into the sub-genre and a great place for our Horror Essentials to start.