Writer/Director Neil Marshall has shown he has a knack for making gritty but stylish films. 2002 brought Dog Soldiers, an imaginative werewolf film that went against the grain of recent horror films by using make-up and traditional special effects instead of CGI to create his monsters. 2005 saw The Descent mix a fight against subterranean flesh eaters with an oppressively dark and claustrophobic underground setting. Now Marshal has turned his one-two punch of writer/director on a new target; a virus induced apocalypse, with his new film Doomsday.
Doomsday starts in the present day, with the outbreak of a new and extremely deadly virus called “Reaper”. The disease spreads quickly though Scotland, but has been limited to that region. To prevent its spread, the government builds a wall isolating that end of the UK. Their plan is simple, let the virus run its course and kill everyone in Scotland, but in the process they will save the world from the disease. A rather heartless but seemingly effective tactic for 27 years… until, in 2035 the virus re-appears in London. Now a team must go into Scotland and look for a cure. The problem is that the surviving population of Scotland has reverted to a violent, medieval state and they have a justifiable grudge against anyone from the other side of the wall.
Marshall’s Doomsday feels like a movie you’ve seen before. The start of the film borrows heavily from John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, not just in concept but also the style of music, and even the heroine Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra) who’s a one-eyed bad-ass much like Carpenter’s anti-hero Snake Pliskin. Later the film shifts from one eighties film to another as The Road Warrior influence takes over when Sinclair faces off against the cannibalistic, anarchist society of led by homicidal maniac Sol (Craig Conway). This portion does make one ponder where they get all of their hair product to keep their Mohawk haircuts spiked and wildly colored.
At this point the reader may think: “Well this film must not be very good if it just keeps borrowing from other films and doesn’t bring anything new of its own.” That is where Neil Marshall’s flair for filmmaking comes in. He manages to take the best elements from the films and blend them together into a stylishly entertaining romp through post-apocalyptic Scotland. The action is intense and almost non-stop from start to finish with a fair bit of humor mixed in for good measure. The character of Eden Sinclair isn’t as memorable as Snake Pliskin, but Mitra plays the role of hard-boiled action heroine well as she sneers her way through the entire film. If you want something new and original, you won’t find it in Neil Marshall’s Doomsday, but if you’re a fan of the sci-fi/action films that were a staple of the early eighties film diet, then you’ll enjoy it. So dig out your parachute pants and hair gel and check out Neil Marshall’s Doomsday, the film version of VH1’s “I love the Eighties”.