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NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by brentage5000 who says... "What 28 days? This movie rules NOW!!!"
The movie starts with Ana (Sarah Polley), a nurse at a hospital in Everett, Wisconsin. She is trying to get out of the hospital (she works the day shift), but one of the doctors tells her to look for the location of this one patient who had gotten bit in a fight. He ignores her protests, and she trudges over to the Nurses' Station and has a friend of hers look it up. The friend finds out that the names were mixed up, and the guy is in ICU. Ana is confused over this, but passes it off and leaves for her house on Normal Street, Suburbia. On the way home, she hears some brief news bits about how "...is unknown what is going on, but..." and "...us this is not an isolated incident." As she's pulling in, the neighbor's daughter, Vivian (Hannah Lochner) comes up, and we see that they like each other. Ana pulls in and goes inside, where her husband Luis (Justin Louis) is lying on the bed watching TV. Next shot, the two are hot and heavy in the shower while on the TV, the show is interrupted by a special news service bulletin.
6:37 AM, the next morning...
Ana and Luis are in bed on the border of sleep and awake, when the door creaks open. Luis blearily opens his eyes and sees Vivian standing there, her face hidden by the shadows. He asks her whats wrong, and she steps forward revealing that her mouth and face are covered with blood and the whole bottom left quarter of her face is missing. Luis runs over to help Vivian. Vivian reaches out to him and -- WHOA -- chow time! She bites into his neck and blood starts pouring everywhere. Ana lifts Hannah off of her husband and throws Hannah down the hall. Hannah lands in a way that should break her neck but she immediately bounces back up and starts running for the bedroom. Ana slams the door shut and locks it, then grabs a shirt and tells Luis to hold it there while she calls 911. She tries to call (praying for her husband to survive), but can't get through. He dies while she's calling, but then he sits back up, looks at Ana, and leaps over the bed at her. She screams and runs into the bathroom, slamming the door and falling into the tub. Luis pounds on the door briefly, but then we hear him stop. Anna slowly gets up, tiptoes her way to the door, calls for Luis, and suddenly he's ripping apart the door in an effort to get to her. Ana opens up the bathroom window and crawls out, running for her car, but she stops when she sees whats outside -- absolute chaos. She sees one of her neighbors and he tells her to get back inside. She tries to ask him whats happening, but he just pulls a gun on her and tells her to get inside -- until a speeding ambulance runs him over. Right on cue, Luis come charging out of the house, still gunning for Ana. She ducks into the car (finally!) and Luis starts working on the windshield. He cracks it, but before he can do more, Ana pulls out, leaving him running behind until they pass a human that's still living. As she drives, Ana listens to the news on the radio, hearing that famous line "...everyone they kill gets up and kills." She keeps driving with no real destination and we see her pass an ambulance that blows up a gas station and a bus full of children tearing apart a classmate of theirs. Ana stops here for some reason, and a (still alive) human starts pounding on her car window, begging to be let in. She thinks he's a zombie and floors it out of there, unfortunately going off road and crashing into a tree, knocking her unconscious.
Now the opening credits roll, and while they do, we see a press conference being given about the zombies, telling the American public what is known about them, or rather, what is not known, which is everything. We also see some news reports being given, attempts to hold the zombies back, and finally, the overtaking of Washington, D.C. Then we go back to Ana.
Ana wakes up in her car, apparently a few hours after the crash. She crawls out and comes face-to-barrel with a shotgun held by Kenneth (Ving Rhames), a local cop. He tells her to say something, and she says, "Please" which is all the proof he needs. He heads through a tunnel, then pauses and signals for Ana to come with him. She does (after getting a tire iron from the backseat) and they go through the tunnel. When they get to the other side, they find three people, Michael (Jake Weber), Andre (Mekhi Phifer), and Andre's (wife? pregnant girlfriend?) Luda (Inna Korobkina). They tell Ken and Ana that it's hell where they came from, and they were heading for the mall, which is just on the other side of a fence they're all standing near. They go into the mall through a service entrance and start looking around. They make their way to a fountain where Ana starts to wash some blood off of her body. Michael and Andre decide to look around a little more. Michael heads off to a sporting goods store, and Andre to the basement. Andre passes the security office and sees another door. He heads for it when a really dessicated zombie slams itself against the shatterproof glass. Knowing he's safe, Andre leaves. In the sporting goods store, Michael is looking around when he hears something moving in back. He trades his dagger for a croquet mallet, opens a door, and sees a zombie eating. Back downstairs, Ana, Luda, and Kenneth are waiting when Ken is bodychecked by a zombie in a mall security outfit. While Michael takes care of his by breaking the mallet and poking the improvised stake through it's head, Ana picks up Ken's dropped shotgun and blasts the zombie, making it twitch about in the fountain. The five meet by the elevators and head for the second floor.
When they get there and the the doors open, they find three guns pointed at them, held by mall security guards CJ (Michael Kelly), Terry (Kevin Zegers), and Bart (Michael Barry). CJ tells them to leave, but after some arguing, he lets them stay, provided they hand over their guns. They do, and after seeing some news broadcast over how they've figured out how to kill zombies at least, Michael gets CJ to put together some sign that people are alive inside. They then paint an SOS on the roof and throw down some signs, noticing as they do so that the zombies are coming for the mall.
Ken says that "maybe they're coming for us" and no one disagrees with him. They also notice some guy on top of a gunshop across the street who is all by himself. That night, CJ locks everyone who's not a security guard in some store while he bunks in the monitor room with Bart and Terry. Terry wonders if they're doing the right thing locking those people up, but he gets quieted by the other two since he's just a trainee.
The next day, Terry is in front of the restaurant and Anna has him let them out so they can use the bathroom. We eavesdrop on the mens room and see Andre questioning Ken about his faith, then confessing that all he really wants is to make a difference and to cause some change in the world. Later, the people are wandering the mall when one of them notices a truck in the lot being chased by zombies. CJ doesn't want to let them in but logic and some quick thinking by Ken and Mike overrule him and get him locked in a cell with Bart (Terry chose the path of good -- good for him). Michael then has Luda and Ana hold up a sign that says enter here while he and Andrre fight off some zombies. The group of seven people -- Steve the sarcastic cynic (Ty Burrel), Frank (Matt Frewer) and his daughter Nicole (Lindy Booth), the beautiful Monica (Kim Poirier), the female trucker Norma (Jayne Eastwood), the old man Glen (R. D. Reid), and a sick bloated woman whose name is never found out -- come in, and while Ana tends to the wounded (Tucker, Frank, and the woman), Steve says that everyone at Fort Pastor (a nearby rescue site) is "deadish." Kenneth, who had a brother waiting for him there, doesn't believe him and goes to the roof where he sees that Andy (Bruce Bohne) now has a sign up that says "Info?" Ken picks up his own sign and writes "Fort Pastor gone -- no help coming!"
Andy merely picks up his own sign and says, "So what's the bad news?" Remarkably, this has the effect of cheering Kenneth up, and the two begin a sort of medium distance friendship.
While Ken is busy discovering the joys of whiteboards and markers, Ana is down in the restaurant working on the wounded. The bloated lady's condition is not improving, and she goes over to check on Frank, leaving Terry to tend the woman. Frank says that he got wounded from a bite, like the lady, while Tucker just hit his foot on something. While he's talking, guess what the lady does? That's right, she dies. Ana puts a sheet on her, goes back to Frank, when suddenly the lady gets back up and starts attacking them. Ana manages to stick something through her head that puts her out of commision, and the next scene is her talking to Michael and kenneth about what she now thinks is the cause of zombification (my term, not theirs) -- getting bit. Michael decides that they have to kill Frank now, but Ana protests, saying that they could put him in quarantine, since she's not totally sure that the bite does it, but he won't hear it. They go to Frank and Nicole and tell them what they know, but after Frank explains how Nicole has lost everyone else, Michael relents and instead has Frank say goodbye to Nicole. He then posts Kenneth by Frank and they all leave the two to it, the pair of them looking eerily like an executioner and a condemned man. Frank begs Kenneth to wait until the last possible moment, which he agrees to. While they wait for the inevitable, Andre finds Luda looking at baby clothes and tells her that their baby's gonna be fine while Ana tells Michael that she's glad he didn't shoot. We see Terry watching the weeping Nicole on a monitor, and hear a gunshot echo throughout the mall, and fade out.
Next day, Kenneth is sitting on the roof looking across the street. He sees Andy holding a sign that says "Q to H4 - Checkmate." Kenneth looks at his die-cast metal chess set, moves the piece, frowns, and says back to Andy, "We need a new game." So begins a little montage sequence of everyone watching movies in the entertainment store and cafe (Ana and Michael), playing basketball (CJ and others), modeling (Monica), cross dressing (Glen), and bonding (Nicole and Terry - awwww). A few days later, we see Jay Leno wandering around the lot, when suddenly he gets his head blown off. CJ looks around the lot again, and tells Kenneth, "Burt Reynolds." Kenneth writes the name on his sign, and Andy obliges. Next someone says, "Tell him to do Rosie," but someone else says, "Naw, too easy." Ana tells them all that their sick, and Steve says that if he ever turns into a zombie, he wants Ana to shoot him. She smiles and says that she'd be happy to.
That night, when they're having a really fancy (considering) dinner, Michael gets asked what the worst job he ever had was, and he says being a husband three times in a row. When he gets asked what the best job was though, he says, "Being a dad." Just as he says this, the lights fail, which means they have to go into the garage to the third level and get the lights working again. CJ and Bart show Michael where the entrance is, and are then convinced to accompany him with the help of Kenneth's shotgun. As they're going, Bart begins to worry about hearing something, and as it turns out, he does -- a dog, which Nicole promptly adopts and names Chips (say awwww again).
Once the dog is outta there, the search resumes, and all goes well until the third level, when two things happen in two different locations. First, we see Luda and Andre in a baby store with Luda tied to a bed, trying to breathe, and looking more and more zombieish. Second, we see that the boys in the garage find the generator just as a zombie that was clinging to the rafters bring down Bart. The others, thinking of the greater good, run for it, and they get to the generator. With Andre, we see Luda die. Andre cries when suddenly the baby kicks. Andre puts his head down to listen when Luda comes back snapping at him, but thanks to some restraints previously attached, that's all she does. As the basement bunch torches a bunch of zombies to (death? re-death? death squared?), Andre reaches into Luda and pulls out the baby.
Switch to Ana and Norma. Ana says that she's getting worried about Andre and Luda, since they haven't seen them in a while. Norma says that she'll go down and check on them. While CJ, Ken, and Michael are making their way back, Norma goes into the store and sees Andre standing there. He says, "It's a girl," and we see Luda thrashing about on the bed. Andre asks Norma if she's gonna kill his family, and she does, first shooting Luda in the head, then getting shot by him, then finishing Andre off. Everyone else comes running, and they find Norma lying there. Terry says that they need to kill her, but Ana says that if she were a zombie, she'd have come back by now. They then go over to see Andre's child and of course, it's a baby zombie (the whole audience cringed here). They freak out and kill it.
More days pass. We see Kenneth on the roof one afternoon reading a sign from an emaciated Andy that says "Hungry?" Kenneth calls a meeting and they decide that they have to get some food to him. Steve, of course, is against this, and Kenneth realizes that they can use Chips the dog, since the zombies only seem to be interested in humans. It is also at this time that they begin making plans to reinforce a couple of parking shuttles to make for the marina and a boat that Steve owns, the reasoning being that they can make for an offshore island, which may have been isolated from the plague. Nicole is against using Chips, but as it happens it works -- the zombies totally ignore Chips, and he gets across the street and into the gun shop through a little dog door. Problem -- the zombies smell Andy through the door, hold it open, and they get in also. Bigger problem -- Nicole has commandeered the truck and is headed across the street to rescue Chips and Andy (even though anyone with a brain [meaning the rest of the group] would have figured out that Andy was a zombie).
Since they now have to rescue Nicole (so says Terry boyfriend), a group consisting of Tucker, Kenneth, Michael, CJ, and Terry forms, with Steve staying behind to let them back in. Since nobody trusts him enough, Tucker says that he'll stay too. They make their way to a manhole in front of Andy's, and then have to fight off a bunch of zombies to get through the truck and into Andy's. Once in there, they both collect ammo of every type they need for all of their guns, plus a few extra guns, and then they hear Andy in back, pounding on a closet door behind which lies Nicole and Chips. Kenneth blasts away the body of his former friend, and they get Nicole out of there. They get back into the sewer, and are pursued by zombies galore. Tucker pops in to help, but the zombies get him, and he yells at CJ, "SHOOT ME!!!!" which CJ reluctantly does. They get back in the mall, but the zombies are still coming. The remaining people -- Steve, Ana, Kenneth, Terry, Nicole, Monica, Glen, Michael, CJ -- make for the trucks, armed with guns and chainsaws. They pile in and crash through the steel door protecting the garage from outside.
For a while things seem to be going well, especially when CJ blows up a gas tank taking care of every zombie in a quarter mile radius around them. Suddenly though, they hit a big bump, and Glen, who had the chainsaw running, starts slicing through Monica's shoulder...and chest...and heart. This activity makes that truck (which also had Kenneth and Steve in it) crash. Steve gets out, refusing to help Kenneth, but he is immediately jumped upon by a zombie. The zombie gets blown away by a rescue team from the other truck (granted, the team is just CJ and Ana and Michael, but still...). Steve gets up as a zombie, and Ana happily blows him away. She goes through his pockets for something, and stops just as a massive horde of zombies rounds the corner.
She gets back in the other truck, and shows what she was looking for -- the keys to Steve's boat.
They get to the marina, still followed by the zombies, and Kenneth drives the truck right out onto the dock. They all try to make a break for it, but CJ gets caught, and he instead shoots at a gas tank that was still in the truck, detonating it, the truck, and himself.
Everyone else -- Kenneth, Ana, Michael, Terry, Chips, Nicole -- heads for the boat, but at the last second, Michael says he won't come, and shows them a bite he got in the street. Ana pleads with him to come, saying that she can help him, but he says, "Help them." The boat pulls out and we see Michael take out a gun and watch them leave as the screen fades to black.
We hear a gunshot.
During the credits we see many 2-3 second clips...
We hear that Terry is fooling around with some video camera of Steve's he found below deck
We see a short bit of Steve saying he runs a tight ship while hugging a bikini-clad girl.
We see Nicole and Terry fooling around.
We see Ana shaking her head at them.
We see Kenneth telling Terry to "Get that damn camera out of my face."
We see a boat floating in the water.
We see a still living zombie head in a cooler.
We see giant worms crawling over something.
We see the island at last coming up to meet them.
We see the fuel gauge -- it's on empty.
We see Chips running off into the forest barking.
We hear Nicole call after him.
We see our heroes walking with their guns drawn.
And then... We see zombies coming at them.