Neil Marshall directed one of the better horror films I have ever seen in the 2006 release The Descent. I have yet to see his 2002 effort, Dog Soldiers, but it is in the Netflix queue and I am anxious to check it out as I have heard plenty of good things. Therefore, it is a wonder how the wheels fell off the train so bad as to bring us Doomsday, a nightmare of a film best described as 28 Days Later meets Resident Evil meets Mad Max. Even though the story line is incredibly generic and vastly played, there was room for success had Marshall made a few different decisions.
The premise of the film is that 25 years ago an epidemic hit Scotland infecting people with an incurable virus causing them to bubble up grotesquely and die. The disease was highly communicable and the solution was to completely wall off all of Scotland and let the disease kill itself off. The idea proved successful until one day what has become known as the Reaper virus surfaces outside the walls.
Satellite imagery shows that inside the walls there are still people living, leading authorities to believe they may have found a cure as a known scientist was left inside. In an attempt to stop the virus, save humanity and make a name for themselves an elite team is sent in to search for the cure. This is where it all goes wrong.
The Blu-ray is certainly a bonus to a confused viewer as we enter the quarantined zone and are greeted to two different societies. The first is a Mad Max-esque group known as Marauders. These folks have taken to ’80s style punk rock tattoos and mohawks. They enjoy a good bit of cannibalism as well as “Good Thing” by the Fine Young Cannibals, a track from 1991. On the other side we have the medieval group. These guys like to ride horses and play castle. Considering the outbreak occurred in 2008 and the film takes place in 2033 you would expect neither of these outcomes… So what gives?
Well, the fancy Blu-ray U-Control feature known as the “Reaper Files” tells us the Marauders took a liking to the punk rock of the era they were stranded in (uh, 2008 punk rock?) and as for the cannibalism, that was initially a survival tactic, but now it is a ritual and just plain good fun. As for the kings and queens, they decide to apparently go back to their roots, as any stranded survivor of a deadly plague would. Basically, anyone inside the wall lost their senses and one decided to become the ’80s rock band Poison and eat people, while the other thought the solution was to hole up in a castle and play the Crusades. It just doesn’t make sense and since it is the primary source of tension an audience is left to scratch their head and wonder… Why?
What 2008 punk rock band was popular enough to emulate? Why after 25 years do these guys still have gas? Why have they designated this nut job Sol as their leader? Who the hell listens to the Fine Young Cannibals? Why does Sol have a leathered up gimp (seriously)? Why does the chick with the crazy tats on her face say nothing and just wag her tongue as she cooks a dude on the open flame? Absolutely none of it makes sense.
The other features on the Blu-ray U-Control feature a picture-in-picture behind the scenes look which replaces any kind of generic featurettes, which is a welcomed idea and hopefully a model future releases will follow as it is better served to do this than just repeat the information all over again. There is also a “Tech Specs” feature which is basically a bit of gloss as it shows information on some of the vehicles in the film – no harm, no foul, no need. Finally there is a commentary with Marshall and a few other nobodies that does nothing in terms of offering up any kind of story decision information as they simply marvel at the gore and point out the moments when their wives are featured as extras in the film.
Unrated or not, lots of gore or none, Doomsday is a mess and it is no surprise Universal buried it and probably regrets picking it up in the first place. Don’t buy this disc and if you must watch it, give it a rental, you won’t find need to return to it ever again after that.
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