A follow-up to the horror movie that reinvigorated the zombie genre without having any zombies in it directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, a man previously known for a very good movie in which blindfolded people run through woods? Sounds like a disaster and, indeed, that was my way of thinking when I first heard about this sequel. Then I saw the trailer and things started to look up. Then I saw the film. And I was impressed.
Getting straight into the action, we join Robert Carlyle and Catherine McCormack (husband and wife in the movie) as they hide out with others in a remote farmhouse. When one little boy arrives at the door it’s not long before a crowd of the infected are also bursting to get inside and, in a realistic moment of devastating cowardice, I will just say that Carlyle manages to escape while others are not so lucky. A brief and efficient time-line gives us a rundown on the events and things begin to settle back to something like normality with one section of London declared completely secure and being kept under American military control. Carlyle is glad to be reunited with his children but it’s not long before they cause one big situation FUBAR and the whole area is locked down and placed on “Code Red”. Thankfully, one doctor and one soldier agree to protect and shepherd the children to safety, because one of them may very well hold the cure to a vaccination against the disease, but safety is a hell of a long way away. And with both the infected and the military out to stop them they may not make it out alive.
This sequel does everything it should, and a bit more. The action is stepped up a notch, the gore flows liberally and certain themes from the original are added to while some others are discarded. While taking place in a smaller area it actually has a grander feel and some major high-impact scenes reinforce this. Okay, the acting isn’t quite as good here as it is in the original (even Carlyle disappoints in the second half of the movie) but it’s nothing to make you cringe and, once again, for a horror movie it’s actually a lot better than anything we fans are used to.
Hats off to Fresnadillo, who took an idea that seemed foolhardy and managed to blend the style of the original into a movie all his own. With plenty of tense moments and some new and inventive death scenes, this is a worthy successor to a fantastic horror movie.
The DVD is also worthy of the movie and as good as the original package put out to accompany the preceding film. There’s an informative commentary from Fresnadillo and one of the producers that happily acknowledges the input from Danny Boyle and Alex Garland, a number of featurettes and ‘Code Red’ – a piece about the making of the movie that features contributions from Danny Boyle. There are also numerous deleted scenes with optional commentary and it all adds up to a decent package for fans, especially thoughtful with the inclusion of Boyle and the knowledge shared that nobody involved wanted to sully the good name of the original movie.
Although I haven’t seen the transfers I must just mention that I’ve seen both movies available in a blu-ray double pack that at least has all of the extra features on there and looks well worth a purchase if you like the films. Technical details aren’t at hand but if the image quality isn’t too bad (bearing in mind that the first movie was shot on DV) then I’d say that was the way to go.
DIRECTOR: JUAN CARLOS FRESNADILLO
CAST: ROBERT CARLYLE, CATHERINE MCCORMACK, ROSE BYRNE, IMOGEN POOTS, MACKINTOSH MUGGLETON, JEREMY RENNER, HAROLD PERRINEAU, IDRIS ELBA
RUNTIME: 95 MINS APPROX