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Alex Garland settles the debate once and for all: '28 Days Later' is indeed a zombie movie

Yes, the post-apocalyptic classic does fall under the purview of the undead genre.

By Josh Weiss
Cillian Murphy in 28 Days Later (2002).

Can 28 Days Later call itself a zombie flick? Danny Boyle's 2002 post-apocalyptic classic does raise some questions about the undead genre and, more specifically, what constitutes a flesh-ripping ghoul. Does a highly-contagious virus that transforms living humans into murderous juggernauts allow one to stake a claim in the genre? According to the film's screenwriter, Alex Garland, the answer is yes. 

"I'm aware for years and years there's been debates about that — over whether or not it's a zombie movie," the filmmaker explained to Empire Magazine, whose latest issue is on sale now. He continued: "It's a zombie movie. Whatever the technical discrepancies may or may not exist, they're pretty much zombies."

There you go, we can put the argument to rest. Let's just hope it doesn't reanimate and come to eat our brains...

28 Days Later, which brought in $85 million against a budget of $8 million, launched Garland's Hollywood career, which included writing screenplays for other sci-fi projects like Sunshine (also directed by Danny Boyle), Never Let Me Go, and Dredd. He made the jump to directing with 2014's Ex Machina, which nabbed Garland an Oscar nod for Best Original Screenplay.

His second directorial effort, the mind-bending Annihilation, was an adaptation of the first book in Jeff VanderMeer's "Southern Reach" trilogy of novels. Despite Annihilation's central premise in which a cosmic (and borderline Lovecraftian) force begins to mutate nature, Garland sees the film as having more horror elements than it does sci-fi ones. "The sci-fi element is quite distant," he said. "But I can point to moments which really are horror scenes, though not classically. It's a psychedelic horror movie."

Garland's third effort as director — Men — is pure horror, though. Opening in theaters May 20, the movie stars Jessie Buckley as a woman who heads to the English countryside in an effort to heal after the death of her husband. But something in the surrounding woods begins to stalk her, leading to a nightmarish experience fueled by the woman's darkest memories.

"When people I've been working with have asked me about what the film is, I say it's a horror movie — but a horror movie about the sense of horror," Garland teased to Empire before asking: "Does that make sense?"

"This woman is grieving," Buckley added. "She's left her world to go to a place to grieve, but also to invite the horrors she's been holding within herself into this house. She's gone to reflect on the horror of being terrorized emotionally. So yeah, I guess 'a sense of horror' is right."

In the mood for more undead horror thrills? Head over to Peacock for a slew of zombie-related offerings, including the 1985 George Romero classic Day of the Dead, as well as the 2008 remake.