"28 Weeks Later" contains one of the most brilliantly constructed opening sequences in 21st century film. Writing, acting, lighting, editing, pace and special effects all combine to drive the narrative forward to that heartbreaking moment of choice that sets in motion everything that else that occurs in the movie.
One of the key cinematic elements at work in making the opening of "28 Weeks Later" so effective is the introduction of an instrumental composition that almost subliminally underscores the domestic conflict that lies always bubbling beneath the surface of the more expansive political themes at play. The musical theme does not kick until the emotional rollercoaster ride of the opening of "28 Weeks Later" is already eight minutes old. Tellingly, that mysteriously disturbing and unnerving piece of music starts at precisely the moment in the film when that domestic conflict commences.
The piece was composed by John Murphy for "28 Days Later" but I think it is used much more effectively in the sequel. Guitar, keyboards and drums build in volume to create a hypnotic, chilling soundtrack that is eerie for reasons not exactly clear. The opening of "28 Weeks Later" is, in fact, an excellent example of how our learned emotional responses to musical composition can be manipulated and exploited to create an effect.
Nothing inherently creepy is at work in Murphy's composition which is titled on the soundtrack as "In the House-In a Heartbeat." Everything is accomplished beneath the surface of instrumentation. The music slowly builds in volume and intensity until it almost threatens to explode in a volcanic eruption of repressed emotions bursting from the subconscious to the conscious. Just when you seem on the verge of being able to explain why this theme from the "28 Weeks Later" produces feelings of disquiet and dread, it reaches its cold climax that brings the music to an abrupt end and leaves Robert Carlyle heading off in his little boat to a future confrontation he could not possibly imagine possible.
Such is the greatness of John Murphy's contribution to a lesson in the art of filmmaking that the sequence should be mandatory viewing in any film school class or film score class. "In the House-In a Heartbeat" is as vital to the effect of the opening sequence of "28 Weeks Later" as the acting, writing, lighting or lighting. Because emotional responses to musical stimuli seem to be conditionally based on experience rather than organic, the full enjoyment of this scene is highly dependent on associating Murphy's theme with its visual accompaniment.
Such full enjoyment is going to be far more difficult for those whose first time viewing of "28 Weeks Later" comes after having been exposed to this music being used in a commercial for Louis Vuitton.
We have been conditioned to expect even iconic rock songs being used to sell crap in commercials, but somehow the use of Murphy's theme in a commercial to sell overpriced trendy Vuitton products that are barely even glimpsed in the advertisement is infinitely more egregious. I really feel sorry for those watching "28 Weeks Later" for the first time whose enjoyment of the opening sequence is dulled by the replacement of the creepy quality of the music with images of mindless models in even more mindless marketing schemes.
- Arts & Entertainment