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Zo Freeman A2 Media Mr McDermott

Compare and contrast 28 Days later with Shaun of the Dead,


commenting on the structuralist or poststructuralist qualities
Foucault and Lacan developed the theory of structuralism, suggesting structure
exists in all texts and art forms. he concept of structuralism is em!edded in
many elements of Danny "oyle#s 28 Days Later due to the adherence to the
codes and conventions of the $om!ie apocalypse su!%genre & meaning is created
through the audiences expectations of 'hat a horror (lm is. )eeing such
expectations played out in (lm relates to "arthes *leasure of the ext theory &
that !eing 'hen the audience see 'hat they expect gives a sense of closure and
ful(lment. +onversely, ,dgar -right#s Shaun of the Dead is evidently
poststructuralist due to it demonstrating several identi(a!le features as it is. self%
referential, demonstrates a !latant a'areness of !rea/ing the codes and
conventions of the apocalypse su!%genre, and also the fact that it com!ines the
t'o !inary opposites of horror and humour. he di0erences !et'een these t'o
(lms demonstrate ho' diverse any given su!%genre can !e, and as )trauss
identi(es, the opposition !et'een the humour and horror genre can help to
propel the narrative and !ecome an integral part of the $om!ie su!%genre.
he trailers for Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later contrast immensely, the
conventional apocalypse trailer evidently !eing 28 Days Later due to its
adherence to structuralism. he early use of tone cards in "oyle#s 28 Days Later
helps to contextualise the plot, installing an expected fear in the audience.
erminology such as 1epidemic2 and 1infection2 is used on tone cards to create
the feeling of isolation amongst the audience. As preceding scenes are shots of a
deserted London city, the sense of isolation for the audience may !e heightened
due to there !eing a personal relation to 'here the (lm is set. +ompara!ly,
-right#s Shaun of the Dead is a criti3ue of the average Londoner in 'hich 1a
hero must rise...from his sofa2 & a comedic comment a!out the sudden la$iness
of society 'hen it comes to ta/ing action and ma/ing changes. 4umour is used
in Shaun of the Dead to moc/ the audience#s o!liviousness to the 'orld around
them5 'hilst this can !e seen as a criti3ue 'ith an underlying moralistic message
a!out !eing more self%a'are, many directors chose to em!ed humour as it
propels the narrative in a di0erent direction. *oststructuralist (lms (nd success
as the audience en6oy seeing su!versions in horror (lms & 'hilst it is one thing
for the audience to see their expectations played out5 "arthes argues that it is
another, more pleasura!le thing, for the said expectations to ta/e an unexpected
turn. )imilarities are evident ho'ever, the protagonist in !oth Shaun of the Dead
and 28 Days Later are !oth o!livious to 'hat has happened around them and
neither seem li/e 'hat *ropp 'ould de(ne to !e 7the hero#. -hilst a contextual
understanding may help 'hen deconstructing !oth trailers, the structuralist
nature of 28 Days Later allo's the (lm to !e engaging 'ith 'ider audiences as
less emphasis is placed on "ritish culture.
"oth 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead utilise the concept of isolation5
particularly the di0erent forms it can ta/e in horror (lms. A prominent example of
this in Shaun of the Dead is the scene in 'hich )haun is (rst exposed to the
$om!ies !ut remains unresponsive as he is o!livious to them. -hilst this again is
Zo Freeman A2 Media Mr McDermott
a criti3ue of "ritish culture, it also reinforces the ideas of post%structuralism due
to the scene eliciting a humorous reaction. he mis%en%scene goes largely
ignored !y )haun5 perhaps due to the area he lives in !eing one 'hich !ro/en
'indo's and large amounts of litter is an expected element of society. his
scene also further su!verts the idea of )haun !eing the courageous 7hero# that
the audience expect from horror (lms5 his ina!ility to detect the possi!ility of
danger com!ined 'ith the simplicity of his character and attire demonstrate his
severe lac/ of a'areness and appreciation of the 'orld around him. o compare
this to 28 Days Later, the scene in 'hich 8im a'a/ens from his coma to (nd he is
one of the only people to have survived the societal collapse imitates many
$om!ie apocalypse (lms 'here the lone survivor is identi(ed from the start.
*erformance is an important element of esta!lishing 8ims character, his fear has
to !e !elieva!le for the audience to side 'ith him and 'ant him to (nd others
and survive. he mis%en%scene of this scene also follo's the conventions of
structuralist horror (lms5 the 'hole of London city is empty and destroyed,
adding to the credi!ility of the plot 'hich is !eing created. 9solation in 28 Days
Later is initially created through 8im#s false perception that he is the only one
'ho is still alive5 as many other elements of the (lm relate directly to 'hat the
audience expect, it is li/ely for them to sympathise 'ith him as most $om!ie
apocalypse horror (lms only feature a small group of survivors 'hich he soon
after (nds.
Shaun of the Dead features a theatrical scene in 'hich the protagonist is seen to
play 'ith the generic conventions of horror (lms 'ith an evident su!version of
paradigms. -hilst the scene initially starts 'ith the promise of !eing similar to a
typical horror (lm, the start of :ueen#s Don#t )top Me su!verts the expectation
of gore and disaster. ,d for example suggests using 1coc/tails2 as a 'eapon to
defend them against the $om!ies & an unconventional idea given the
circumstances and the other 'eapons 'hich may !e availa!le. )imilarly, the
protagonist )haun, 'hom *ropp 'ould li/en to the role of 7the hero#, advises the
use of an unconventional 'eapon 'hich is not 3uestioned !y those follo'ing
him. -hen loo/ing at this in the context of $om!ie apocalypse horror (lms, it
could !e due to the fact that anything that can !e done in order to survive 'ill !e
tried no matter ho' a!surd it seems. 4o'ever, considering this (lm has
poststructuralist 3ualities, it can !e seen as a criti3ue of the gruesomeness of
other horror (lms as this 'eapon does relatively little damage !ut still manages
to defeat 7the villain#. ;se of a trac/ing shot in 'hich the protagonists circle the
$om!ie hitting him 'ith a pool cue reinforces ho' unrealistic the events depicted
in horror (lms are. 4umour is created through the diegetic sound of the song and
the sound of the !eating !eing in time, and also the choreographed leg
movements of )haun 'hen he slides over the pool ta!le, and also 'hen he gets
up from !eing /noc/ed do'n !y the $om!ie. David conforms to *ropps idea of
7the helper# as he is the one 'ho aides )haun to (nd an unli/ely resolution to the
main pro!lem of the scene. ;se of a shot reverse shot !et'een David and the
shado' of hands reinstall the fear and isolation & /ey elements of horror (lms.
Diane also plays an important role in this scene as the only female character &
feminist critics 'ould argue that she is masculinised in !oth her costume and
Zo Freeman A2 Media Mr McDermott
also mind%set. As +lover argues in her essay 4er "ody, 4imself, 1masculinity and
femininity are more states of mind than states of !ody2 in horror (lms5
particularly those 'hich are postmodernist. Diane#s character does not conform
to Mulvey#s ideology surrounding the male ga$e either & her use of profanity and
simplistic attire deter the general male audience from o!6ectifying her.
o conclude, !oth Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later are of great relevance to
the $om!ie apocalypse horror su!%genre. )imilarities !et'een the t'o (lms are
minor !ut are existent5 many of the codes and conventions of structuralist horror
(lm 28 Days Later exist also in -right#s poststructuralist (lm, Shaun of the Dead.
he main di0erences !et'een the t'o (lms is ho' they are executed & 'hilst
Shaun of the Dead heavily emphasises the intert'ining lin/ !et'een horror and
comedy, 28 Days Later rede(nes the $om!ie apocalypse su!%genre !y adhering
clearly to conventions and allo'ing the audience to !ecome su!merged in the
(lm.