28 Minutes Before

This started off as a response to this Reddit thread about an alleged rumor for a sequel to the movies “28 Days later” and “28 Weeks Later” which will of course be called “28 Months Later.” The news is actually a few months old, and odds are this 3rd sequel is currently in Development Hell, but who knows? Maybe we’ll see it happen. I have seen 28 Days Later and I liked it, but not enough to make me wanna see the sequel. What started as a brief response to that thread turned into the craziness below, and while I’m still debating with myself whether or not I’m gonna post it to Reddit or just leave it here, I liked the idea I came up with enough to want to preserve it somewhere. I’m just not sure if it’s gonna be welcomed over there. I mean, this turned into a plot treatment for a screenplay.

I want a zombie film that faces head on the one thing all other zombie films hint at but usually leave open. How did it start?

How about a zombie/infected movie called “28 Minutes Before” where during the opening credits we’re introduced to the main characters and as the last credit title fades, we happen to see a clock, and from that shot on we follow a protagonist in one long shot (with camera trickery where absolutely necessary) that twenty-eight minutes into the film unwittingly becomes “The Carrier.”

You can time it. In fact the marketing would encourage it. The editing would be done so that exactly twenty-eight minutes after the opening credits end, the main protagonist is infected. And I’m gonna say the protagonist is male for simplicity sake in the following description, but she or he could just as easily be female. Just imagine it’s you, if you’d like, or whichever gender you wish.

He’s the carrier, and immune to the contagion himself, but everyone he comes in contact with has a seizure, then drops dead, and about ninety seconds to two minutes later, anyone who dies in the presence of the carrier, or at the hands of an infected, gets back up and starts slowly following him around. It would be important to try and keep consistency in how infected fall and get back up. There would be distinct reasons why a few behave differently, which would be revelatory as the story progressed, but most people would fit a consistent pattern of behavior. Seizure. Heart failure. Two minutes of stillness, and then zombie like behavior.

The carrier has to keep running from them and they slowly follow him, but they ferociously attack anyone not infected that looks like a threat to the carrier. They act like slow moving zombies when moving towards him, but lash out like wild animals at other uninfected people, turning them. Some people are immune and others take longer to turn. It’s dependent on blood type but that is only revealed because the carrier who infected him has been a little talkative about blood type this whole time, and seems rather detached from the proceedings. Eager to help his friend of course, but fascinated by the process and seems to know more than he’s letting on. More common blood types turn faster, and it starts with spreading only through skin contact but later becomes airborne through the carrier’s pheromones.

The carrier has friends through all this, one of which he has known a long time, who also appears to be immune but is not a carrier, and we saw this person seemingly innocently infect him but we don’t learn why until the final reel. This is the person who increasingly shows interest in different people’s blood types and seems to be observing the event as if it’s a science experiment, which makes the carrier suspicious but he doesn’t have time to confront his friend due to the escalation of events.

In the first half hour after the carrier is infected, it seems kind of isolated and less than a dozen or so appear infected, a couple at a time, but some of those go off screen and the carrier runs in and out of places in a major metropolitan city, and at the 28 minute mark AFTER contagion, the story takes a dark turn. We the audience have been seeing glimpses of how its spreading, but now the carrier gets his first clue that at least half the city is now infected. They are now moving in herds, or sometimes more like swarms. Scores of people flocking like birds with clipped wings, going after uninfected like pack animals, or slowly turning to him and lumbering forward to him when they spot him. And at least one of the people who has appeared to be immune and helping him out until now begins to turn. Slower tho. For this individual it’s not so much a seizure at first. More like a catharsis. She is suddenly overwhelmed with joy and happiness, shaking in ecstasy, until her eyes roll back in her head and she becomes one of them. Unable to comprehend or communicate. It’s revealed this isn’t so much a rage infection or a classic zombie infestation. Something is overriding the nervous systems of these people, putting them into a state of frenzy that runs on impulse and instinct. Something is controlling them by using the pleasure centers of their brains. They give up motor control to some unspecified external force, and they continue to feel overwhelming bliss, until their humanity is zapped out of them by an overload of sensation.

The half of the city not yet converted into whatever these zombie like things are becoming have begun to realize something is going on, including First Responders and people in positions of authority. A local news crew has gotten the carrier’s face on camera and the first news report informs the city through a live feed. Every TV seems to have his face now, and the police announce he is “a person of interest.”

The carrier hasn’t exactly been quiet about this. He’s unwittingly been bringing attention to himself, seeking assistance from friends strangers and anyone who wasn’t yet after him, only to witness them fall and turn. He’s been running away from a growing crowd of violent people. To the uninformed it looks like a lynch mob that finds him guilty of something. And when a cop tries to apprehend him, the cop goes into a seizure in front of other cops. So now even uninfected people begin trying to apprehend this guy. He’s doing something to these people when they touch him, and they don’t understand what any more than the carrier does.

The film itself would be only about ninety minutes long and would show just how fast a contagion like this could spread. The first half hour appears innocent but we see the person who is supposedly his friend give him a drink which can be assumed was laced with something, but only cuz it happened at the 28 minute mark. Then the next half hour after that is like a standard zombie film from the perspective of the carrier, and then the last half hour just totally goes ape shit. Leading to a final confrontation on a rooftop of a skyscraper with the carrier and his alleged friend, now the final two people in the entire city, and soon perhaps the world, who are not affected.

The carrier figures out his friend did this to him, and he demands to know why, as the zombies climb up the stairs and are closing in. They can either jump, or let the horde take them. Or maybe the pleasure center puppeteer makes itself known.


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