Monday, 8 November 2010

Doomsday (2008)


A recent status update by a ’friend’ on Facebook proclaimed Newcastle born writer/director Neil Marshall a genius. I was somewhat surprised by this, is Mr. Marshall really to be considered in the same light as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, and Leonardo Da Vinci? Naturally I had to challenge this cretinous stupidity, but before I did, I paused and wondered if perhaps this individual was basing their statement on his first two films Dog Soldiers (2002) and The Descent (2005). Imagine my horror when I discovered they had not only seen Doomsday, but saw it as the clinching evidence of his genius. My polite disagreement resulted in him removing me from his friends list…go figure! Dog Soldiers was an enjoyable werewolf yarn, a mild distraction which benefited from the eerie isolation of the Scottish highlands. The subterranean monster movie The Descent was less successful in my view and somewhat overrated. There was certainly evidence in these first two films that Marshall had the potential to lead a new wave of British horror, which makes his third film Doomsday even more perplexing. The word homage is overused, it is a post-modern device utilised in my opinion, for the purposes of giving legitimacy to unoriginality. There is a fine line between homage and the mindless plundering of the imaginations of other writers and filmmakers.

In Doomsday Marshall quotes, borrows, steals, and references from such a number of sources (noticeably all the films he does rip off are superior to his) in such an unimaginative and uncreative way that this feels like a feature length exercise in plagiarism. Marshall packs his convoluted mess of a film with a gallery of grotesque characters, and grotesque performances, and shamelessly enters on occasion the debased torture trash territory of adolescent filmmakers like Eli Roth. The plot (if you can call it that) sees Scotland placed in quarantine behind a giant military patrolled wall due to a highly infectious disease and is a bungled bastardisation of Escape from New York (1981) and 28 Days Later (2002). The film overflows with grim faced and serious performances, and with characters with stupid biblical names like Kane and Eden, Marshall’s attempts at symbolism are beyond laughable. His attempts to create gravitas and depth through a sloppy Malcolm McDowell (no stranger to crap films) voice over is a storytelling device quickly forgotten as Marshall sets about putting his Lara Croft clone (the horribly po-faced Rhona Mitra) into a series of ridiculous action sequences. This is a dystopian future, but the 1980’s goth retro look only adds further confusion. The use of 80’s fashions, style, and music makes very little sense, as does the need to make the villains cannibals.

Doomsday isn’t a total dead loss though. Marshall does possess some filmmaking talent, and he shows a particular flair in this film for exciting action sequences. Most of these sequences make no sense, but at least they are exhilaratingly mounted. A chase scene on an open country road played out to Two Tribes by Frankie Goes to Hollywood is superbly edited and the highlight of the film. Marshall also manages (I’m not sure whether through accident or design) to address current anxieties about Anglo-Scottish relations. This is a prescient topic in a political age that constantly positions Scottish independence to the forefront. The total rejection and subsequent isolation of Scotland by the English parliament in a time of great national crisis distils a number of anxieties. That the surviving inhabitants of Scotland become either goth cannibals or mediaeval throwbacks doesn’t say much for a Scotland no longer part of the UK. Marshall pitches the cynicism about central government effectively, but it is somewhat undermined by Bob Hoskins’ atrocious performance. The allegorical leanings of the narrative may save Doomsday from the dustbin of obscurity it deserves to reside in, but the for the future of British horror/science-fiction this is a creative regression.


  1. Hated this one every step of the way. I mean, its such an obvious rip off! If Marshall wanted to pay homage to some of his favorite films, then he should do that, what he shouldnt do is plagirize whole sequences from said films. Which is what he did here.

    I hated that sequence where suddenly were in Knights of the Round Table territory with swords and horses and castles...wasnt this a post apocalyptic movie? I hated that part.

    And that scene with the fire, and the heavy metal looking villains about to feed, that scene felt so stupid...I dont know I just hated this movie every step of the way.

    I did like that one last chase sequence where they blow up a car against a bus or something, but everything else was barf inducing.

    I hear Centurion isnt that good either, but havent gathered the strengths to rent that one yet.

  2. I actually paid the full admission fee to watch this woeful excrement at the cinema. It was the second half of a double bill I engineered with "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." You can imagine how depressed I was trudging home that evening. I haven't seen "Centurion" either, but it is on my rental list. Marshall still has a decent filmmaking record - two good films and one total disaster, so im willing to "Centurion" a chance.

  3. This was an awful movie. I was anxious to see it opening day and came away terribly disappointed. It was such a step backward from Marshall's previous movies I thought.

    Personally, the action sequences were some of the absolute worst I have ever seen in a film. Someone I know as a moderator from another forum was an editor on this movie and I asked him what the hell happened. The camera stays so close to the actors and the editing never allows the action to breathe. I honestly couldn't tell what in the hell was going on half the time, or who was hitting who. More emphasis was placed on the sound effects of the punches, kicks and stabbings than the actual action. Seeing it in the theater, I often felt I was watching this crap in fullscreen.

    He also told me that Rhona Mitra was incredibly difficult to deal with (big surprise there) and that the original cut was around three hours. Not sure I could handle a three hour headache from that much DOOMSDAY. They had a cool idea with Mitra's "eye", but this was scuppered after just the beginning sequence.

    By the time it got to the section with Sir Galabad and the Knightmares, I had already tuned out and the MAD MAX/ROAD WARRIOR tacked on conclusion did nothing to redeem what ended up as the lousiest movie I'd seen that year.

    It's telling that Marshall's movies (whether producing or directing) since have not gotten a wide release. I really did want to like DOOMSDAY, though. Probably the reason I dislike it so much is that I was so excited to see it.

  4. Thanks for the comment Brian! - I felt cheated too, but fortunately I had no expectations attached to the film. I was so out of touch at the time that I only discovered it was a Neil Marshall when his name appeared on the credits. It is totally devoid of merit. Marshall's career mirrors closely that of Christopher Smith. Interestingly the most recent films by both directors (Centurion and Black Death) are set hundreds of year ago. The former in the Dark Ages of Britain, and the latter in the Middle Ages. Smith appears to be the director with more promise now (thanks in large part to Triangle), but initially he was anything but with his debut film Creep. It'll be very interesting to monitor the progress of both filmmakers.

  5. I was like Venom5 with this movie, I had high expectations of it. Anything that deals with post apocalyptic themes I am attracted to, and the pics were looking good, they showed the mad max vibe the film had going for it and that pumped me up as well, but the final result, the film itself was a let down.

    Agree with you Shaun, Marshall has made two good movies so far, Dog Soldiers and The Descent, which is why I gave Doomsday a chance. I am curious for Centurion, but the fact that it didnt get a wide release, and all the negative reviews dont exactly inspire a lot of confidence on the film. But whatever, I'll probably end up giving it a chance.

  6. Theres nothing I can add that hasnt already been said, this was a capital offense to viewers, eye and mind rape

  7. jervaise brooke hamster17 November 2010 at 22:13

    I want to bugger Rhona mitra.

  8. By the look of her in this film she'd probably bugger you first :-)

  9. This was pretty poor rip-off of other movies, but there were some fun action sequences. Malcolm Mcdowell and Bob Hoskins were completely underused too.

  10. I would say that McDowell and Hoskins should hang their heads in shame, but they have far worse film skeletons in the cupboard than this odious mess.


Related Posts with Thumbnails