Caught this on PPV with the daughter — a big horror movie fan — last night.
Once again, spoiler alert.
They had a pretty good premise by the tail. The hyper-rabies “Rage” virus has carriers, people who can get it but not get sick but also can pass it along to the non-immune. And also this whole “scientist as the bringer of doom” thing. But somehow they let it go. Here’s where I think it went off track.
Too much time wasted on violence. The scene where the carrier wife is strapped to the gurney in the quarantine room and her husband comes in and gives her a big wet kiss is just way, way too much. But stepping back: why does he — I don’t care who he is — have clearance for that room? Why was she — after being ordered executed — left unguarded? And at the risk of sounding like one of the weak-kneed, did it really have to go on that long? We get it already. They turn violent and do things too horrible to contemplate. So why show them unless it’s for the pure gross-out value. Let us contemplate them instead. Plus, it actually slows the plot down.
Other serious logic problems: When they go Code Red and put everyone in the cellar. One would think that they’d prepped and secured that room beforehand. So why the unlocked door with a big glass window in back?
Wouldn’t it be to the advantage of the uninfected to leave the lights on? It seemed to be such a transparent horror movie gambit to turn the lights off.
How does it come to be that the Rage-infected father has it together enough to be everywhere all the time, hiding in the basement instead of insanely running down the street like the rest of them, and just happening to be in the distant subway tunnel where his kids are? If Rage makes people so damn smart, how come they all starved to death?
It was surprising to see the marine sergeant die so quickly, and shocking for the Rose Byrne (whom I’m secretly in love with) character to get knocked off near the end. But that leads me to the main missed opportunity, the Scientist-As-Bringer-Of-Doom theme.
Most of the time the S.A.B.O.D. is someone playing God in an arrogant way, leading to Bad Things. The guy in the lab at the beginning of the first movie is an example, as is every mad scientist creating a monster or nuclear technologist bringing Godzilla up from the deep. It’s obvious they’re up to no good and that the results are going to be Bad Things.
Pretty, compassionate and smart, Byrne is just trying to do good. She wants to get a vaccine and a cure out of this situation. She wants to protect young children. How bad can that all be? Pretty darn bad, as it turns out. There’s a grey area between ignoring the implications of something and beating you over the head with it, but I think they erred on the side of ignoring it.
The ending was satisfyingly abrupt, in an Italian-opera kind of way. Bang. Here’s what happens, pleasant dreams, closing credits. It lets you draw your own conclusions, and contemplate the implications of the disease breaking loose not just on an island but on the largest land mass in the world. I wish they’d let me contemplate the horror inside my own head during the quarantine scene.
I’ve written here before that “28 Days Later” is the zombie movie with a soul. They seem to have forgotten that in this one. Think of that incredibly poignant scene where Jim goes back to his old house, finds his dead parents and their note that says, “don’t wake up.” That simple note sends more chills down my spine than anything in “28 Weeks.”