It’s been 10 years since the release of 28 Weeks Later, and though Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s sequel is, as a whole, inferior to Danny Boyle’s 2003 predecessor, there’s a moment in the film that’s as powerfully horrifying as anything we’ve ever seen.
During the initial outbreak, Don (Robert Carlyle) and his wife Alice (Catherine McCormack) are hiding in a barricaded cabin on the outskirts of London with four other survivors. The members of the group are leading a quiet life that has continually kept them safe, but that safety is uprooted when a young boy pounds on the door while being chased by a massive horde of the infected.
The infected soon break into the cabin, killing most of the survivors while chasing them throughout the house. Don is chased upstairs with Alice and the boy, and he manages to lock a door to temporarily keep the infected at bay. Don pleads for Alice to abandon the child, who is hiding and cannot be found, but she refuses- turning back toward the room rather than following her husband to safety. At this moment, the infected break through the door, and Don is left to make a sudden, terrifying choice:
To save his wife, or save himself.
The performance of Robert Carlyle in 28 Weeks Later is never stronger than in the brief moment before he closes the door on his wife. Visibly torn and heartbroken at the prospect of losing her, but too cowardly to sacrifice himself, he winces in conflicted agony as he shuts the door, leaving Alice shocked and petrified by his abandonment. Don runs, owning his decision and escaping the cabin while being chased by an even larger horde. He arrives at a boat and is nearly killed by the infected before narrowly escaping.
Not only is this scene intense and terrifying in regard to the infected, but it holds a mirror to each viewer and forces us to question what we would do in that situation. It’s easy to say that we’d have helped, but who knows? In that nightmarish scenario, it may prove easier to run.