28 Days Later ★★★½

It’s kind of like watching Casablanca or something, where you’ve seen a million things that reference the original, and so it is hard to take it on its own as a movie unto itself. Even the trick of casting unknowns is different when you watch it in 2020, because Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris are big stars now. But it’s also more joyful and human than pretty much everything it inspired (maybe not Zombieland?), and recognizing that joyfulness is what separates humans from infected rage monsters is literally the point here, which is something that shit like The Walking Dead could have paid more attention to. The third act drags a bit, but the ever-shifting concept of “who is the monster” is a trick that few movies could pull off without literally making that character the monster, and it takes a while for it to sink in. There are so many zombie stories out there now that it’s hard to imagine that this was a time that this was fresh and thrilling, but that’s success for you! There are probably not three other movies from this century that did more to shape our culture, so thanks a lot for that, I guess.