28 Weeks Later

Starring Robert Carlyle and Rose Byrne. Rated 18A.

Zombie movies are always about the domestic made dangerous. Why else have all those impromptu families holed up in safe houses that aren't?

28 Weeks Later, a sequel of sorts to the more character-rich 28 Days Later, takes that concept further by becoming a kind of bloody critique of a marriage under stress. Of course, having flesh-eating zombies punching in your bedroom doors is not exactly Ingmar Bergman material, but it does take an emotional toll on a woman (Catherine McCormack) when her husband (Trainspotting's Robert Carlyle) takes off on her just because reanimated corpses have her cornered in a tinderbox farmhouse.

Some seven months after that, the hubby turns up in charge of maintaining a huge complex where survivors of the zombie wars are now domiciled. The rage infection has been contained and security is being provided by the U.S. army. Uh-oh, you might well be saying right about now. Yes, there's s certain discipline problem there, as among snipers who "joke" about shooting civilians, but an even bigger concern should have been Carlyle's character getting an all-access pass that allows him to get by military and medical personnel to the heart of a quarantine area that, let's face it, no one would sneak into. (But that's a zombie movie for you.)

Then there's the fact that the guy's children (the equally well-named Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton), who were abroad during the outbreak, have a tendency to leave the protected area in order to further the plot, all the while showing us a fantastically emptied London–so quiet, but quite a mess these days.

Also along for the colour-desaturated thrills–lots of red still, of course–are resourceful Yank soldiers (Harold Perrineau and Jeremy Renner) and a compassionate doctor (Aussie Rose Byrne, playing American), all of whom try to help the kids when they get stranded again. Despite the necessary implausibilities and a body count that makes viewers resist emotional detachment, the brisk movie was stylishly directed by Spain's Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Intacto). Apparently, 28 Days director Danny Boyle shot some of the second-unit action sequences, and it's comforting to know that they kept it all in the family.