The heroine is absent one eye, and she occasionally wears a patch, which makes her a dead ringer for Snake Plissken in Escape from New York. Her opponent wears a punk Mohawk, tattoos, and laments the loss of his lover. Just like Wez in The Road Warrior. Between those two movies is Doomsday, a thriller that�s so haphazard in its construction, and so blatant in its dependence on previous films, that it functions less as a movie and more as the pitch meeting from which it was birthed. Watching it is like watching someone make a movie.
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Neil Marshall�s previous films, Dog Soldiers and The Descent, showcased a filmmaker eager to make his mark despite low budgets. Now he�s making no marks on a high budget. Content to wallow in the pit of outrageous action-comedy that�s produced turkeys like Crank and Smokin� Aces, Marshall�s latest is a fusion of gory comedy and extreme violence, cut with the manic intensity of an editor on crack that�s been laced with more crack.
The trailers explain how, after an epidemic hits Scotland, the survivors in England erect an enormous divider between the two countries. Nearly three decades later, the virus re-emerges, and the government decides to send in an elite team to retrieve a potential cure in the �quarantine zone.� Funny, how quickly these elite teams are always taken down by zombies, or aliens, in this case, insane bikers.
This elite team is led by Rhona Mitra�s Eden Sinclair, who, as mentioned earlier, plays as Snake Plissken with ovaries. She�s missing an eye, but, thanks to advances in technology, she has a replacement that she can throw down hallways to see what�s happening around the corner. Although she�s a stand-in for Russell�s iconic (and much more interesting) character, she also seems like a double of Kate Beckinsale�s Selene from Underworld, and I wasn�t surprised to learn that she�s replacing Beckinsale for the third film in that series.
If there is a standout sequence from the film, it�s the moments when villain Sol treats his followers to a home-cooked meal: one of Sinclair�s team members. The scene begins with a man announcing his presence via microphone, and then Sol bursts into the enormous room. Craig Conway munches into the scenery as he works his followers into a frenzy, gets frisky with some live dancers, and, in the most shocking moment of the picture, organizes a kickline of male dancers in kilts.
A scene of efficiently gruesome cannibalism follows, rendering Sol as an especially good villain. He’s real good. Better than anything else in the movie. He also loves his girlfriend. A lot.
Genre fans will find much to enjoy in the picture, especially the outrageous amount of gore in the film. Nearly every action sequence involves severed limbs, lost heads, and gratuitous arterial sprays. And I guess there�s something to be said for trying to hearken back to the early eighties, when sci-fi, fantasy, and horror experienced a small revival. The score from Tyler Bates allows for a few notes that sound like vintage Carpenter.
But the film does nothing especially new with the material, instead replaying like a greatest hits of past eras. Some recent films have trouble with the idea of extensive homage. Others do it without breaking a sweat. House of a Thousand Corpses was a labored mess, hoping that its sheer excess would outrace its unoriginality. Slither, on the other hand, deftly put together its package and unified it into a cohesive story, much of that due to its intensely likable cast.
Doomsday�s ragtag clich�s inspire little interest, and the film never moves beyond the sum of its parts. In a way, its inspirations are so classic that one can probably enjoy the film as a diluted love-letter, but that�s about it. The rest is sound and fury, trying desperately to convince us that something of equal awesomeness is happening. It’s like that lonely kid on Thanksgiving that wants to eat at the adults’ table.