For those in the mood for
first-class schlock, the films of Neil Marshall should more than satisfy. The
apocalyptic DOOMSDAY is very much in keeping with his oeuvre: itís mindless,
trashy, derivative and furiously entertaining--and in the end isnít that the
DOOMSDAY, from 2008, is the most monumental feature from Britainís Neil
Marshall. It was shot on location in London, South Africa and Scotland,
employed literally hundreds of extras, and boasted a reported $30 million
budget. It also features at least two (semi) prestigious actors, Bob Hoskins
and Malcolm McDowell.
DOOMSDAY follows Neil Marshallís DOG SOLDIERS (2002)
and THE DESCENT (2005), both highly respected, financially lucrative exercises
in horror/exploitation (although Iíd say THE DESCENTíS reception was somewhat
overly enthusiastic). DOOMSDAY by contrast was extremely poorly received by
both critics and audiences, even though itís easily the equal of Marshallís
Something called the Reaper Virus has spread through Great Britain, forcing
authorities to quarantine the afflicted area. Years later the virus turns up
outside the areaís perimeters; in desperation a small band of military trained
specialists, led by a hot chick named Eden Sinclair, are dispatched into the
quarantined zone to find a cure.
The place of course is a violent nightmare ruled by freaky Mohawk-sporting
guys and a renegade doctor. Itís he who has the cure to the Reaper Virus, but
heís slow to give it up. He captures Eden and her cohorts and forces them to
joust for the edification of scores of bloodthirsty cretins. Eden manages to
escape, and procures a cool car in the process. This precipitates a high speed
chase during which Eden takes out the leader of the Mohawk gang and crashes
through a bus.
Intelligent this film is not, and nor is it at all original. The central
concept shamelessly rips off ESCAPE FORM NEW YORK (itís not by accident that a
pivotal character is named Carpenter), and also borrows liberally from 28 DAYS
LATER, EXCALIBUR and THE ROAD WARRIOR. Nor is the acting anything much (about
the best I can say for the lead actress Rhona Mitra is that she looks hot). Yet
the film works, pure and simple.
What Neil Marshall lacks in directorial finesse he more than makes up for
with energy and enthusiasm. The action is all-but nonstop, and generously
spiced with over-the-top gore (more so, obviously, in the unrated DVD version).
I was initially concerned that Marshall might not bridge the transition between
the low budget action sequences of his earlier films and the large scale ones
here, but heís pulled it off with superbly lensed and edited brio.
Only in the climactic car chase does the action become
incoherent. Likewise, the final scene is a bit awkward (Marshall has always had
trouble with his endings). But Neil Marshallís talents are undeniable, and I
for one am looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.
Crystal Sky Pictures/Rogue Pictures
Director: Neil Marshall
Producers: Benedict Carver, Steven Paul
Screenplay: Neil Marshall
Cinematography: Sam McCurdy
Editing: Andrew MacRitchie, Neil Marshall
Cast: Rhona Mitra, Bob Hoskins, Malcolm McDowell, Adrian Lester, David OíHara,
Craig Conway, Lee-Anne Liebenberg, Alexander Siddig, Emma Cleasby, Christine
Thomlinson, MyAnna Buring