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DOOMSDAY

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 whole point?

The Package
     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 earlier films.

The Story
     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. 

The Direction 
     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.

Vital Statistics 

DOOMSDAY
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
 


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