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The Infected are the central antagonists of the 2002 horror film 28 Days Later and its 2007 sequel 28 Weeks Later as well as in the series' comic adaptation, 28 Days Later: the Aftermath.
As their name suggests, the Infected are living people infected with the highly contagious Rage Virus, which has warped their brain cells to make them see all living people as objects to be hunted down and slain ruthlessly.
The Infected are preferably nocturnal and are true hunters. The Infected are distinct from regular movie zombies in that they are not the resurrected dead and they do not eat their victims. They also do not show any emotions apart from extreme rage. The Infected also seek out to spread the virus rather than eat their victims. Unlike zombies, they do not show any emotion with friends or family. The Infected are all former inhabitants of Great Britain and they have no other goal than to kill or infect every other human in the nation.
Two scientists at Cambridge university named Dr. Warren and Dr. Clive, were attempting to eliminate all homicidal rage. Because, prior to their experiments, a series of uncontrollable rage-induced rioting had spread all around the entire nation over the last few weeks. The police had told Dr. Clive it was getting uncontrollable and they asked them to find a cure for domestic rage. Dr. Clive and Dr. Warren were paid by an international board of businessmen named the Financiers to create a drug that would isolate neurochemicals in the brain that cause excess anger and aggression in humans. They developed a drug and got a violent and anger-filled criminal from a police station to serve as a test subject for the inhibitor. When the man was administrated the drug, he was not effected, so Warren increased the dosage. This, instead of making the man calmer, made the man crazed with rage. He broke out of the restraints and knocked Warren to the floor. Right as he was about kill Clive, Warren recovered and bludgeoned the man to death with an emergency fire extinguisher. They later buried the man's body on a hill. Clive then sneezed at the cemetery, which gave Warren the idea to use a contagion as a delivery system for the drug once they worked on it more. Dr. Warren then decided to take Clive's idea that they should experiment on animals. At first, Warren considered using Influenza as the drug's delivery form. But soon changed his mind when he found several genomes inside of the Ebola Virus that would perfectly mix into the inhibitor. After some more work with the inhibitor, and mixing it with Ebola, Warren and Clive administered their new drug to their chimpanzee test subjects. But unbeknownst to the scientists, several isolated genomes inside of Ebola reacted violently with the drug, and it had been mutated over the course of about two weeks. This mutation of the Ebola Virus reacted to the inhibitor's effects and reversed them. Now, instead of inhibiting and controlling rage, the inhibitor now instead amplified rage in its host over a thousand times over, filling its host with completely mindless and uncontrollable rage and hatred towards everything around them. Thus, the Rage Virus was born.
The two British scientists were completely unaware of this and injected the drug into some chimpanzees test subjects. The both their shock and horror (and to Warren's anger), the chimpanzees became erratic, rage-filled, and began to bleed from their mouths. Clive then mocked Warren for doing the exact opposite of what he had originally intended to do.
Quoting: "You've created a Rage Virus!"
This drove Warren into a mad fury and he violently assaulted and fought Clive. This finally pushed Clive over the edge and he quits the project. Clive then later informs an Animal Freedom Front about what Warren had done to the chimpanzees and then attempts suicide but fails. The AFF later break into the university to free the infected chimps. A scientist attempted to call security but was stopped by one of the members. They then asked the scientist to explain himself and the scene around them. He told them repeatedly to not free the animals, as they were "infected". After being questioned about what they were infected with, the man only answered, "Rage". The AFF members disregarded his pleads to not let the chimps out (as they were infected with the Rage Virus) and they release one of the chimps. Not knowing of the highly contagious Rage Virus that was in their bodily fluids. The freed chimp then bit open the woman's neck, releasing the Rage Virus into her system. She quickly began to spasm and bleed from her facial orifices. The bitten woman had become the second infected human in the United Kingdom (the first being the hooligan, who was infected with a prototype version of the virus). The now rabid and infected woman then vomited her infectious blood the faces of three of the other members of the AFF. Who became the third, fourth, and fifth infected humans. Dr. Warren (who was unaware of the Rage Virus' release upon the university) was talking on the phone when he heard continuous and annoying banging on the office door. When Warren went to investigate, he was attacked by the knocker, an infected monkey, who quickly infected Warren. And from there, the Rage Virus began to spread in a massive domino effect everywhere in the United Kingdom.
Invasion of Infected
The Infected initially attacked small market towns and villages as they moved along the South of England, and the behavior of the Infected was dismissed as rioting because of the riots the inhibitor was designed to eliminate. The Infected originally had no name and were originally seen as normal civilians. But as time went by and their amount of victims grew, and more and more areas in the country suffered Infected attacks, it became clear these were not regular humans, but hosts of an unknown virus. And as the behavior of the Infected was full of uncontrollable rage, it became appropriate to call the virus "Rage" and also as the Infected were hosts of the virus, it became appropriate to call them "the Infected".
The Infected could move at formidable and powerful speeds roughly twice the speed of an adult human. And they crossed miles of countryside in days and attacked countless cities and towns, Infecting thousands of people. In many areas, the Infected attacked and claimed victims without any problems. However, in some areas such as Manchester, the civilians knew of the impending attack and so set fires to drive out the Infected. This worked in a fashion, but the Infected had killed all of the authorities such as firefighters, so there was no one to protect the city, which burned to the ground.
Hundreds of Infected were driven out of the burning city and they swarmed in the forests all around. The Infected overran all Army and military blockades designed by Prime Minister Tony Blair to protect the cities and thousands of military personnel were Infected or killed. The Infected that survived all of the conflicts with the military inherited a desolate, barren country. There was no resemblance of ordered life anywhere in Great Britain, and by day fifteen of the Outbreak, Great Britain ceased to exist as a nation.
28 Days Later
There were perhaps anywhere from 300 to 500 Infected left alive after the conflicts with the military after the Outbreak. The Infected could come and go as they pleased and sought out any uninfected humans to kill. The Infected would last roughly three months before their ultimate deaths.
Four weeks into the Outbreak, a young man named Jim, who had had a car collision before the Outbreak and so was lucky to survive, awoke in hospital to a barren, deserted London, full of the Infected hordes at night. The Rage Virus had prevailed and erased almost all human life in the United Kingdom. Jim managed to realize what had happened when he met several Infected himself. He survived numerous attacks by Infected hordes and (along with three other survivors) eventually escaped the country. Meanwhile, the Infected died progressively from malnourishment.
28 Weeks Later
Even though the Infected had starved to death and the main threat was over, the legacy of the Rage virus lived on in rabid dogs and generally chaotic streets in London that followed the collapse of civilization. The Rage Virus also had a secret weapon.
During the outbreak, a couple named Donald and Alice Harris were barricaded in a cottage not far from London, sheltering from the Infected. When the Infected found them, Don was forced to abandon Alice to save himself. Donald managed to escape the Infected Sandford in a motorboat and helped rebuild the United Kingdom after the apocalypse. Alice, who had miraculously survived (although she got bitten) the outbreak of the Rage Virus, was found in their abandoned house by her two children: (who were out of the UK when the Rage Virus broke out) Tammy and Andy Harris. Donald is informed of the findings of his children (he believed Alice to be dead) and visits her without authorized permission. Alice had been quarantined by the military due to the threat she posed to the UK (and potentially the entire world). She had become a Carrier of the Rage Virus. She was infected, but still retained her physiological state of mind (albeit traumatized). Unaware of this, Donald reunited with his wife, and the two of them embraced in a kiss. When Alice unknowingly Infected her husband, she started the outbreak all over again in the newly populated District One in London. Donald was Infected and became a true (and highly intelligent) Infected. Alice is brutally murdered by her monstrous husband (in a gruesome scene many fans know as "the Kiss of Death").
When Donald became an Infected, he was notably different from other Infected, being more intelligent than others. Examples of this were shown when he stalked his children instead of brutally attacking them upon sight, and when he preferred to just kill humans rather than both kill and infect them. This showed he had some form of control over the virus. Most other Infected were just driven mindlessly by the virus to attack and Infect others yet Donald seemed to master the plague, preferring just to kill. Nonetheless, he only needed to Infect one person to fully start the domino effect of the Rage Virus.
As Donald broke into the safe room, he vomited infectious blood on a young man, who quickly became rabid and Infected, and he went around attacking other people and building up a horde of Infected as Donald sadistically watched. Soon, the desperate survivors kicked the doors open and fled with all of the Infected on their heels. Soldiers were ordered to first target only Infected, which made it hard because from their elevated positions on rooftops the Infected looked just like regular people. Although they tried to comply, soon the order was changed to fully exterminate everyone, regardless of whether they were Infected or not. They had lost control.
The Rage Virus had made its grisly and bloody return.
All of the Infected managed to escape the onslaught, as one old woman noted, saying the crisis must be over because there's not much gunfire any more. Or maybe it was just because no one was left uninfected to kill.
The Infected escaped into the main streets of London from District One, which was on the Isle of Dogs. There they ran rampant but NATO ordered London bombed to stop the Infection. The bombing did kill a few hundred Infected yet thousands more escaped District One. Donald Harris himself cunningly hid by a shaded street as the inferno spread and afterwards, the Infected ran screaming into the night.
The Infected caught up with survivors, Tammy Harris, Andy Harris, Scarlett and Doyle on the Regent's Park field and Flynn the pilot was forced to kill hundreds of Infected in a gruesome chopper scene. Sam, a cowardly survivor, begged Flynn to take him yet he fell off the helicopter and Sam (presumably) got Infected.
Even so, many Infected survived the attack and chased the survivors into town. Although all of the surviving Infected were killed by toxic gas, there were many more Infected who went a different route into the London Underground and thus survived. These Infected were running rampant through the barren landscape of Great Britain again.
After Doyle sacrificed himself to US Army flamethrowers, the Infected Donald Harris cornered his children in the Underground and killed Scarlett. Donald tried Infecting his son Andy but he turned out to be a carrier just like his mother. Tammy then found them and shot her father twice dead. The kids then meet Flynn in the stadium and escape by helicopter.
Even though Tammy, Andy and Flynn flew to France, four weeks later in France there was another outbreak of the Rage Virus. Many Infected were seen running along the subway tunnel which emerged into broad daylight on the streets of Paris. This implies that a third outbreak occurred in Europe (and one that was most likely started by Andy).
28 Months Later
In the possible third installment of the franchise, The Infected will return some time in 2017. It has also been hinted that even a fourth film will also be produced.
Powers and Abilities
The Infected have much the same intelligence, movement and stamina (if not increased movement and stamina) that they do before infection. The Infected's intelligence is most notably decreased, as they can no longer tell friend from foe and in fact attack their uninfected friends, now seeing them as foes. Their speed is the one of the most notable thing about them. They can run at speeds roughly twice the speed of a normal human, making them formidable hunters. An obvious feature of all the Infected is their eyes, which glow a brilliant red, symbolizing their extreme hatred for other uninfected life. Also, because their bodies are full of contagious and infectious blood seeping through their every pore, to them, the whole world would be the colour of blood.
The Infected generally prefer the night and darkness to bright light and avoid bright light if possible. The Infected are, however, attracted to bright light if it comes from an uninfected human. They are intelligent enough to learn from mistakes; if they can see that many Infected are failing to reach a human from one route, they will go round another route to kill the human. Unlike other zombies too, they are shown observing each other and taking note of errors they may have. An example of this is when in the Second Outbreak, two Infected swarmed the tower block rather than focus on the fleeing civilians and killed a sniper.
All Infected bleed profusely from their eyes, tear ducts and scalps, and their mouths are always drooling dark blood. Some Infected have eyes wide, as if from fear, but this is more likely the state they were in before infection.
There are three main ways to become an Infected: One way is to have infectious blood vomited on one's face, which seeps into one's eyes, also infecting them. A second way is to have a bite on any other part of the body, i.e. limbs and such, which gets one Infected. A third, unknown way to become Infected is through humans called Carriers, which are Infected in all but mentality, as they are Infected but have no feelings of Rage. Through an act such as a kiss, one can infect their companion.
All Infected last about four months before dying of starvation. And provided they are not shot, gassed, or decapitated in that time, an Infected individual can last up to five months if cunning enough.
Because the Rage Virus makes its hosts solely focused on killing or infecting people and causing destruction and that they feel nothing but mindless hatred and rage, they no longer care about nourishment or self-preservation. They will make no attempt or have any thought of hunting for food or water. This means that all Infected eventually die from starvation, exposure and malnourishment in a matter of days. As they lack a sense of self-preservation, they no longer care about keeping themselves out of harm's way. They make no effort to avoid physical injury and dangers (like gunshots, artillery or fire). This also comes into the play that the Infected can completely ignore and disregard physical pain or injuries, although will still be physically harmed and killed by such extreme damage. The most prominent example of this is in 28 Weeks Later. In which several infected are mutilated by Flynn's helicopter's blades, one infected is effectively amputated below the torso, fatally wounding it, yet, even in its last seconds of life, continues to attempt to crawl towards the survivors. Another example of an Infected's durability is shown in the first film: where several Infected are ignited in flames by a molotov cocktail, yet, have no reaction to being immolated and continue to chase down Jim.
It is however, possible that smart Infected (like Don or possibly Mailer) could possibly be cunning enough to hunt. Don appeared to not chase after the survivors in the streets like the other Infected, instead, he actively stalked his son and hid in the shadows, managing to avoid both the hostile snipers and the fatal nerve gas that had been released to systemically eliminate all remaining infected. This shows that Don does have some (albeit limited) sense of self-preservation, as he is also shown to have took cover in a shelter when NATO ordered the firebombing of District One, shown waiting for the flames to pass, while the other Infected continued to attack surviving civilians and made no attempt to avoid the incoming wall of flames, thus burning to death in the streets alongside their unfortunate victims.
- The Infected have a high tolerance for pain, however, if they are damaged enough it will impede them, as an Infected soldier whose body was cut open by helicopter blades could only move very slowly compared to the others.
- All the Infected, to varying degrees, bleed out of their tear ducts in their eyes. This may symbolize the fact that serial killers are marked with tear symbols, as all the Infected are natural killers.
- It has been proven the Infected loathe water. Many of them will blunder mindlessly into its depths in pursuit of an uninfected human but will flounder and drown. However, none of the Infected can even swim, lacking the capabilities and intelligence to do so.
- Donald is unique among Infected, because he carries weapons - he used Scarlett's rifle to bludgeon her to death. No other Infected has bothered using weapons, using their bare hands.