Zombie cinemas

Visual arts and film studies

Typical in all zombie cinemas, there is always an apocalypse that marks the termination of civilization. It is true that horror movies reflect society’s anxieties and fears from war to disease outbreaks. These movies also illustrate how societies breakdown. Usually, breakdowns are as a result of the absence of power and energy. Resulting in anarchy that is, what distinguishes humans from animals. The fear that the comforts present with as that enable peaceful daily living will not always exit (Altheide & Michalowski, 2010: 475). Whether it is fear that humanity may turn against each other in a greater magnitude than historical wars or humanity may be wiped out by disease, these movies show the opposite of peaceful co-existence, the brutality of the absence of kindness in the human population.  What makes zombie movies a fascination to its audience is not the movie but the situation the zombies create. The movies remind us of our frailty, worst personalities, our weaknesses but also our strength and hope in restoring humanity.

28 Days Later is a zombie horror movie displaying the post-apocalypse period. The plot involves an outbreak of a virus contained in chimpanzees for research in a laboratory. Three animal rights activists try to free the animal, but the scientists warn that the animals have been inoculated with a rage-inducing virus that is transmittable through blood and saliva. The animal rights ignore the warning and free the chimpanzees that end up attacking one of the activists who attacks the rest, and ultimately everyone present becomes contaminated with the virus. Soon afterward everyone in London is infected but whether the entire world has been infected is left to the speculation of the characters involved (IMDb, 2011).

28 Days Later is a depiction of the fragility of modern civilization. At the time of its formation, it was the break of the millennium and what was threatening the real world was the possibility of a biological warfare, chemical attacks as well as viral outbreaks. Similar to the masterminds behind the terror events, the monsters behind the havoc in the movie are human but lack human emotion (Altheide & Michalowski, 2010: 500). In addition to this, just like the aftermath of a terror attack, confusion, chaos drive even the sanest insane. In America, the terror in the movie was analogous to the September 11 attacks that had occurred months before the movie was released. The mind of the society was alert to the possibility of a worldwide attack.

Moreover, in the movie, after the epidemic of the virus, the scenery in London drew a comparison to the carnage in New York on the days then ensued after the attack. The debris filled streets, the quiet, inactive walkways as well as the missing person’s cards on notice boards. Although not coincidental, the images triggered emotions in the memories of those who encountered the terror attack. As the character Jim wakes up from a coma in a hospital, 28 days following the zombie apocalypse, he finds out everyone is gone. The hospital is weirdly empty as he rushes out; he tries to carry supplies from a vending machine that was actually snacks illustrating the unpreparedness that surrounds sudden tragedies or attacks in the society. He obviously senses danger in the absence of everybody and tries to arm himself with necessity oblivious to what is outside (McIntosh & Leverette, 2008: 67).

The character of Jim is an excellent portrayal of human values. First survival, he looks for food and picks up a couple of money discarded on the floor. Even without the understanding of the happenings of the surroundings, Jim’s first instinct is to save himself. However, he goes home to find his parents had committed suicide. At the face of terror in reality, people react by either hoping the tide will turn keeping hope alive or just the opposite escaping from the changed reality. Both the individual who gives up and hold on are searching for a place where they can regain control again. Nobody wants to be out of control. As human beings, we crave for power. Ironically, what we also crave awakens the worst in us. Our own creation births fear and anxiety.

Jim’s escapades finally lead him to a church that is unfortunately occupied by the ‘infected’ the human’s turned zombies. He is rescued from the group by two people who risk their lives to save him and demystify the current events to him. This scene brings about the hope in humanity. The fact that at the face of danger, people lay aside their differences, whether it is race, social status, gender and so forth. Suddenly, danger reminds us that we are human, with similar attributes different from animals and we need each other. In as much as we are wrapped up in individualism, we crave companionship hence the saying man is not an island (McIntosh & Leverette, 2008: 89).

Eventually, the ‘uninfected’ run out water and other necessities in their hide out and have to move to survive. Up to this point, the group is aware of the possibility that they could as well be the only survivors in the world. So when they finally here of a broadcast from Frank, one of the survivors who joins the bandwagon with his daughter that a group of uninfected soldiers at Manchester have an answer to the pandemic, they all agree to relocate there. While there, they out that, the military had their own agenda, and their strategy against the Zombies was to leave them to starve. Moreover, it becomes apparent that probably Great Britain being an island may be the only place where the infection spread and the rest of the world quarantined the area to reduce the coverage of infection.

Now that is a condition typical of survival. Charles Darwin termed it as natural selection where only the fittest survive while nature eradicates anomalies. In dealing with terrorism, such as the one instigated by Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, with the aim of eliminating the terrorists, sanctions were put on Iraq, the area was considered a war zone, and everything was destroyed (McIntyre, 2008). Both the guilty and the innocent suffered the same fate. They were killed, and they lost the property. Even during the war they were some lucky to be ‘uninfected’ who run away as refugees to safer territory while others like the soldiers who so a chance to propagate wickedness even at the face of destruction.

In conclusion, some actions taken in history though deadly and depict human cruelty has been accepted by society as actions for the greater good. Human beings cherish power but often lack control over it over the fear of the lack of it. Zombie cinemas illustrate how monstrous we become when we lose our balance of control. Nonetheless, although our own evil abilities may destroy most of what we have built, there is always a remnant. There is always hope and the possibility where human beings will learn to appreciate the portion allotted to them (MacPherson, 2007).

References

Altheide, D. L., & Michalowski, S. (2010). Fear in the News: A Discourse of Control. The

            Sociological Quarterly , 40 (3), 475-503.

IMDb. (2011). Synopsis for 28 Days Later. Retrieved November 20, 2015, from IMDb:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0289043/synopsis?ref_=ttpl_pl_syn

MacPherson, C. B. (2007). The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to  

Locke. Great Britain: Oxford University Press.

McIntosh, S., & Leverette, M. (2008). Zombie Culture: Autopsies of the Living Dead.

NewYork: Scarecrow Press, Inc.

McIntyre, E. V. (2008). Vicious Strangers: Television, Ideology and the Discourse of Fear.”

            Master’s thesis, Social and Political Thought. Regina: Saskatchewan.

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