Doomsday (Marshall, 2008)

For a filmmaker who usually injects weighty characterizations and story elements into his hardcore genre movies, Neil Marshall completely dismisses logic, science, and any sense of plausibility in his often entertaining but completely ridiculous apocalyptic romp Doomsday. The premise, which lays out the devastating effects of a Scotland-based plague, attempts to put Britain in America’s shoes of a modern super-power forced to bend ethical concerns for the good of national security. In response to the highly infectious outbreak, London politicians build a wall around Scotland, sectioning off its dying inhabitants from the rest of the world. The ramifications of this anti-humanist action cannot be fully fathomed until super cop Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra) is sent over the wall thirty years later to find a cure. Her team discovers two societies of archaic warriors battling each other; one a Mad Max like group of cannibals and the other a Medieval themed horror show run by Malcolm McDowell. As Sinclair begins to ad-lib her mission, it seems Marshall begins to improvise his script, using the brilliantly chaotic battle scenes as anchors to keep the whole afloat. With its clear cut boundaries between two separate hells, one an unknowing product of the other, Doomsday has plenty of allegorical potential. But the film completely undermines itself in the second half, turning into a relentless and gory house of horrors with little substance beyond the arterial spray that often splatters the camera. Marshall is at his best in cramped tight spaces where his conflicted heroes often sacrifice morality for survival (see Dog Soldiers and The Descent). Doomsday, with its sprawling scope and limitless potential, gets silly then out of control and never fully recovers.

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