Doomsday, directed by Neill Marshall, is a film that I’d been looking forward to for a few months. Marshall is best known as the writer/director of the 2002 film, Dog Soldiers, about the British military against werewolves, and the 2005 film, The Descent, about an all female caving adventure which goes horribly wrong when they encounter some underground nasties. So when I found out that Neil Marshall’s next film was going to be a post apocalyptic epic I thought ‘bring it on!’
Dog Soldiers was Marshall’s second feature, and though I had some issues with it I still really liked it. It appeared to be a good indication of things to come from this writer/director and when The Descent was released, I wasn’t disappointed! It blew me away, with a genuinely scary plot and only a handful of flaws. It was great watching the progress of a filmmaker on the way to becoming one of the great genre directors in the world today, or so I thought.
Doomsday is set in a futuristic Britain in the year 2038. Scotland has been walled off in ‘Hadrian’s Wall’ style as a deadly virus has hit the populace. The only way to keep England and the rest of the world safe, is to lock everyone in Scotland behind the wall and try to forget they ever existed. The walling off happened in 2008 and now 30 years later an outbreak of the same virus has occurred in London.
It is quickly realised that the only chance of finding a cure could be from the scattered survivors still living in Scotland. So a group of military personnel set off behind the wall and venture into Scotland. Well, being a post apocalyptic film, you can imagine that all hell breaks loose in their journey to find the illusive cure, if in fact there even is a cure to begin with.
I had a few doubts about the film in the first 30 minutes but it wasn’t that big of a deal and I went with it. But the film dragged itself down further and further with every minute that passed, and by the end I couldn’t wait for it to finish, which says a lot when I was so looking forward to the film in the first place.
This film just didn’t know what it wanted to be as it went through almost every kind of genre it could muster, from a virus, apocalyptic, battle, horror, sci-fi, historical, and even a B-grade splatter film. I’m all for using a bit of violence in film, and in fact would go as far as saying I think the more the better as it really does make things more realistic, but this film took things 5 steps too far.
80% of the time they had a chance to show violence they did, and in the most graphic way possible. All that did in the end was desensitise you to the point that the next head you saw coming off just wasn’t shocking anymore. Throw in some really random nudity, which just seemed so low budget it wasn’t funny, and half a dozen scenes that looked completely ripped off from films such as Mad Max, Gladiator, Escape From New York, and Aliens, and you ended up with a film that just didn’t seem to have its own identity.
So, incredibly, in my research for this review I find out that’s exactly what the director was going for! He wanted to pay homage to all these classic films from over the last 30 years. What, by ripping off their themes and ideas and putting them into one jumbled film? Well it really didn’t work for me and it couldn’t help but drag this writer/director down in my eyes. It felt so self indulgent and reminded me of how I felt about Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof.
If I had rated this film after the first 30 minutes I would have given it 6 out of 10, but because I did sit through the whole thing, I’d say it’s slid down to a 4 out of 10 from me. Sadly disappointed with this film, and I quickly need to go out and watch a good film to make up for this fact!
4 out of 10 from me!!!