Science fiction and fantasy                                            


directed by Neil Marshall

Doomsday poster  
Much like 28 Days Later, Doomsday begins with a modern Britain that's ravaged by an outbreak of disease. This time the plague is known as the Reaper virus, and it afflicts its victims with hideous boils before causing death.

The virus takes hold in Glasgow, and before long the whole of Scotland is in its grip. So the entire country is put under indefinite quarantine, isolated by a no-fly zone and mined seas. A 30-foot steel wall is erected along the border, along the line of Hadrian's wall. This is just the first of many moments that will have you thinking "as if!" during this movie.

Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra) is one of the few people lucky enough to have escaped Scotland before the quarantine was enforced, albeit after taking a gunshot wound to the eye. It's a quarantine that was never lifted, and the Scots were simply left to die without any hope of escape. By 2035 Eden is a hard and reckless cop, careless of her own safety and trigger-happy. With the help of a false eye that doubles as a recording device she's practically a one-woman army. The first time we see her in action, tracking down some criminals who seem to be trafficking people, the body count is simply insane. This isn't the kind of movie where realism matters.

Predictably the Reaper virus returns, but this time to a decaying London where people are crammed tightly into ghettos and more susceptible to disease than ever. Eden is given 48 hours to go to Scotland and return with a cure in order to save the rest of Britain. She takes a small team and a couple of APCs, although when they enter this wild and deserted country they aren't expecting much life, never mind any resistance.

However Doomsday very soon turns into a re-run of Mad Max, spliced with the zombie mayhem of 28 Weeks Later. Not that zombies are present, but some of the characters have a sense of mindless bloodthirstiness about them. Civilisation has broken down, but the first tribe they encounter can still manage elaborate tattoos, punk hairstyles which look like they take a lot of effort to maintain, and rock-concert style theatrics. They're surrounded by vast herds of cattle, but prefer cannibalism to beef. Led by Sol (Craig Conway), this tribe is at war. Sol's tribe has clearly decided that the war will be won on the basis of who looks the most like Marilyn Manson.

Doomsday is gory, silly, and relentlessly violent. Matters don't improve when they meet Kane (Malcolm McDowell). His gang live in a castle and dress as though they just stepped out of the middle ages, embracing the supposed purity of a former time. It's all very theatrical.

The fact that Scotland isn't supposed to have had any fuel imports for nearly 30 years doesn't get in the way of a high-speed car chase. Eden manages to find a flashy black car and steer it through closing doors and firefights without so much as a scratch on the paintwork. With lots of winding, empty roads there are scenes in this film that look just like a long car advertisement. Visceral, dumb, fast and splattery, Doomsday might appeal to anyone in the mood for thought-free entertainment. But it's a triumph of style over substance, and recycled style to boot.

Film Details

Year: 2008

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 18

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2 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson


Dan Wilson     20th May, 2009 15:33pm

Another 'review' by Mr. Jackson. What exactly does he have against British genre cinema?? This is an excellent film that really pushes the boundaries of U.K. cinema. Wait 5 years and it'll be a classic.

Ros     20th May, 2009 16:04pm

That's Ros as in Rosalind. I'm not a guy.

I favour thoughtful and/or emotionally intense movies over visceral bloodbaths. But as for having something against British movies, that's complete nonsense. Why would I discriminate against films made in my own country?

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