Directed by Neil Marshall
Produced by Steven Paul and Benedict Carver
Starring Rhona Mitra, Craig Conway, Bob Hoskins, Malcolm McDowell, Adrian Lester, Alexander Siddig, David O’Hara, Sean Pertwee
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: July 29, 2008
In 2008, an unstoppable virus rips through Scotland causing panic and chaos. In a desperate move to contain what has become known as the Reaper Virus, England quarantines the entire country. Those caught inside the quarantine zone are left to die, hopefully along with the virus. Now almost thirty years later, a cramped and poverty-stricken London becomes the perfect breeding ground for the Reaper Virus to return, and so it does in a major way. With the secret knowledge that there are still survivors in Scotland, a plan is concocted to send a team of soldiers in and find what must be the cure.
Tapped to lead this suicide mission is Major Eden Sinclair, a tough-as-nails member of the Department of Domestic Security who is one of the few survivors lucky enough to get out of Scotland. Sinclair, along with a motley crew of soldiers and scientists, make their way into the quarantine zone and soon discover that the survivors have gone absolutely mad. Their first obstacle is to overcome a rogue army of rampaging and cannibalistic punks lorded over by the berserk Sol, before dealing with their main target, Dr Kane. Kane, who was working on a cure to virus before being trapped in the country, has holed his followers up in a castle and anointed himself King! Sinclair has only forty-eight hours to find the cure and make it to the rendezvous point, and the clock is ticking!
After wowing horror fans with his debut Dog Soldiers and scaring the wits out of unsuspecting cinemagoers with 2006’s The Descent, director and writer Neil Marshall set his sights next on creating a perfect love letter to ultra-violent post-apocalyptic action films that dotted the eighties. Marshall taps into the main plotline of Escape From New York while injecting heavy doses of the Mad Max trilogy to create a foundation for a wild and fully entertaining flick.
The opening sequence, with Malcolm McDowell’s eerie and gravelly monologue unfolding the fate that befalls Scotland, sets the grim tone for the rest of the film. Meanwhile Marshall, who has shown us twice before that he and his crew can dish out the grue, starts blowing everyone to Hell just moments after the stark and sudden title screen with a giddy delight of someone whose just learned how to rig a squib for the first time. And with a glimpse of the computer monitor that details the wall that is placed around the country while the lo-fi soundtrack pulses underneath, it is hard to remind yourself that this is not 1982.
Of course, is just the prelude for the main course of the film which is dished out in great charred chunks of maniacal excitement, in more ways than one. Gone here is the careful plotting and set-ups, the meticulously framed shots and allegories that made THE DESCENT so unique. Instead, Marshall takes an entirely different approach to his style this time around, which can only be described as being seat-belted into the back seat of a car, with a brick wedged on the accelerator heading straight for a cliff. Marshall orchestrates speed, chaos and anarchy into a symphony of destruction that begs to be cheered at and gleefully enjoyed.
From the fore mentioned opening sequence that lets the audience know exactly what to expect in terms of the red stuff to the final explosion, Marshall leaves very little breathing room for the viewer to catch a moment to relax, and this is exactly the pace the film demands. While in the hands of a less excited director, and there is no doubt that Marshall woke up everyday with smile on face wondering what to decimate next during filming, Doomsday could have easily fallen into a jumbled mess. But with Marshall, ever the resourceful man he is, you don’t question, “wait a minute, why is there a guy in a suit of armor?” but exclaim “holy shit, now they have to fight a knight!” It is completely absurd, but somehow it all works.
The UK never really got in on the fun of ultra-violent journeys through barren wastelands back in day, instead leaving that to the Yanks, the Italians and a few Aussies. But now these blokes are setting things straight and paying off with interest. Here, Marshall is not just content with making an homage though, and actually pulls off creating an original addition, as much as the limited sub-genre allows for anyway. And like those predecessors, Marshall isn’t too worried about making a logical film. If you stop to wonder how a bunch of twenty-somethings who weren’t even born when the virus struck can operate vehicles that somehow still have gas or how there is still electricity pumping through the country, well then you’ve already missed the Bentley speeding by and can just piss off.
DOOMSDAY performed moderately at the box office, but unfortunately did not draw the crowds that it deserves. But now, with Universal Pictures’ release of the DVD, hopefully that error will be corrected. The DVD release features both the theatrical and unrated version of the film. The unrated version runs approximately four minutes longer and basically includes snippets of dialogue and slightly extended moments of violence, but nothing that really stands out. Both versions include anamorphic widescreen transfers of the film and a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, while the theatrical cut also includes a Spanish dub. The extras include an audio commentary with Neil Marshall and several of the secondary actors. This track was a bit disappointing, with long moments of silence despite there being five people, and should be reserved for commentary diehards only. The remaining features on the disc include the standard making of, an extremely detailed look at the weapons and vehicles in the movie and how they were created, and a trailer gallery.