After the quirky ‘Dog Soldiers’ and the suspenseful yet brutal ‘ The Decent’, home-grown director Neil Marshall goes in a completely different direction with the post apocalyptic ‘Doomsday’ and whether he hits the mark is definitely going to be a personal preference.
Let me begin by saying that whilst it is fairly gory and has a fairly dark theme, ‘Doomsday’ is not really a by the numbers horror, in fact, quite where it sits in terms of genre is still open for debate.
The movie opens as a plague sweeps across Scotland. As the situation spirals out of control the English decide to draw the line, literally, at Hadrian’s Wall to be precise, in an effort to quarantine Scotland and contain the infection. Powerless to help, England simply lets nature take its course and after the usual run of looting, rape and pillaging which is usually associated with lawlessness, Scotland dies. Denounced by the rest of the world for their unethical decision (well they want independence!) England is left to struggle on its own as an outbreak then occurs south of the wall. With fresh intelligence that there might have been a cure in development, a crack squad of police are sent into the unknown, beyond the wall to retrieve it. What does happen to the Scots when left to govern themselves?
An incoherent mess… is what follows. Whilst the plot begins promising it gets a little random to the point where, to be honest, I didn’t really know how to feel about the movie.
It would be wrong for me to elaborate too much on the plot as it would be giving the game away, however, I will say that after a suspenseful, typical horror type start, the film it turns into is a cross between Mad Max and Lord of the Rings. For me this surreal twist in direction seemed a little too out of place, and even when given a chance the plot had too many holes to be taken seriously.
With this said, it could have been a lot worse, and the film does have some positives. Marshal’s quality direction shines through, and with such an ambitious plot it could have been much worse in the hand of lesser skill. The choice of cast, classically British, play their roles well to bring out a host of colourful and likable characters. The CGI effects look a little ropey in parts but overall the stunts and apocalyptic scenery bring the world to life. The script even has some effective humour in it to lighten up the dark subject matter.
One thing which is consistent with ‘Doomsday’ and Marshal’s other movies is the gore. Now the gore in all of his films has never been over the top, but it has been there when it’s needed, and this is certainly the case in this movie. We see some bloody headshots, dismemberments and a couple of body altering automobile accidents; not to mention a particularly gruesome rabbit headshot which had my girlfriend eeking into her hands! All the effects are good and are another factor in keeping the film afloat.
Overall, it has been difficult to review this film as it brought about certain ambivalence from me as I was watching it. On the one hand I was disappointed, Marshal’s other movies have been straight down the line horrors and to be honest, whilst the start is fantastic, what follows didn’t sit to well with me. That said the quirky nature of some of the set pieces, coupled with the fact that when taken at face value the movie is well done, meant I did enjoy it for the most part. Well, what a contradiction and I guess you could be forgiven for thinking it’s not the best assessment you’ve ever read! If you’re a fan of Marshal I would say give it a go, just understand it’s not a horror. If you just want to see it because it sounds like a ’28 Days/Weeks Later’ clone then don’t, because its not, it’s a weird fantasy-esk film with no zombies in sight, despite the beginning making you think otherwise.