The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

28 Weeks Later, and RapeX

"28 Weeks Later," the sequel to Danny Boyles’ terrific "28 Days Later", is a genuine horror film, probably not for casual viewers—if you aren’t into zombies and grueling tension, this one isn’t for you.
The original premise is back: a group of animal rights activists frees a lab filled with experimental animals, including one infected with the “Rage Virus.” The virus jumps species. Anyone bitten or in contact with blood or saliva transforms in seconds from victim into another blood-puking, sprinting ragaholic. The only thing that kept the world from ending was the fact that the disease was confined to an island—England.

The sequel takes place “28 Weeks Later” as citizens begin to return, to an American-maintained stronghold on the Isle of Dog, in the center of London. The main character is a man (Robert Carlyle) who was forced to abandon his wife. Watching him explain to his children what happened is one of the most heart-breaking things I’ve ever seen in a horror film. Everything is buttoned down tight. Nothing can go wrong…

And you know where things have to go from here. They do. It’s just awful. This is one exceptionally tense film, in which any soft emotion leads to disaster. The urge to embrace, to forgive, to protect, to confess…anything at all. This is REAL horror, where the better human qualities lead to disaster, and only the cruel survive. Man oh man, if you aren’t ready for this, if it doesn’t sound like your particular cut of raw steak, stay away. For hard-core horror fans, this is what you’ve been waiting for, an “A-.” For general audiences..? I just don’t know. Maybe a “B-.”
Has anyone heard of “RapeX”? It’s an anti-rape condom with little serrated teeth on the inside, to be worn by women when they think they may be at risk. Designed by (I believe) a doctor who heard a rape victim sobbing that she wishes she had “teeth down there,” it’s the very essence of a desperate measure. South Africa has phenomenally bad rape statistics—one out of 5 men in one study ADMITTED to rape. God only knows what the actual numbers are. If you ever wanted to see the soul-crushing effects of Colonialism and Apartheid, there you are. At any rate, I have mixed feelings about its potential effectiveness, but feel it’s a product that SHOULD be on the market, and available to women who feel the need. After all, if a man wears a condom, a “RapeX” won’t hurt him even if a woman has malicious motives and tries to hurt an innocent guy. In a country so ravaged by AIDS, whether to stop rape or disease, this sounds like a desperate, but fascinating, innovation.

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