Doomsday (2008) — It’s a very punky afterworld

“If you’re hungry, have a piece of your friend.”

Justin’s rating: Outlander! We have your woman!

Justin’s review: For how little you probably heard of Doomsday, you’d be surprised to discover that it’s a slick, interesting movie that jumps out of the gate and spends the rest of the film flat-out sprinting. It begins with a deadly “Reaper” virus spreading out from Glasgow, Scotland (you know, THAT Glasgow) which spreads, kills, and sends Britain in a complete and total tizzy.

Their solution is as ridiculous as it is fun to watch: they wall off the entire land bridge between Scotland and England (a new version of Hadrian’s Wall), mine the seas, and institute a no-fly zone over the country. THAT’S how you do quarantining, people! The sheer scope of building a 30-foot high wall across the entire country (armed with automatic sentry guns every couple hundred feet) is probably the least outlandish thing you’re going to find in this flick. Anyway, everyone in Scotland is left to get sick and die, and Britain dusts its hands off and then realizes that it is now a world pariah for such a callous act.

This is all well and good until about 30 years later, when the Reaper virus once again pops up, but this time in the heart of London. With an arbitrary time frame of 48 hours to accomplish their mission, a small team led by one-eyed Tough Girl is sent beyond the wall to find survivors of the plague and a possible cure.

In other movies, this would be a total setup for a vacation into the heart of zombie country, which goes good for our military heroes until minute twelve, when they get their heads bit clean off and everyone involved realizes that they should’ve stayed in bed that morning. In Doomsday, this excursion is an excuse for silliness and gore, but since it remains entertaining, there’s a large measure of leeway that we’re prepared to give this movie.

You see, the film postulates that Scotland left to rot doesn’t actually become a giant graveyard; no, a chunk of the population proves immune to the virus (which nobody else in the world apparently cared to discover before now), and has gone bat-poop crazy out of a lack of anything better to do.

Now it’s a fun hypothetical exercise to imagine what a modern country where 99% of its population is slaughtered and the remaining 1% walled off from civilization would do with their free time. Considering that they’d have gobs of space and all of the modern tools left behind – power plants, infrastructure, everything except imports — you’d think they might regress a bit but still fashion a workable society from what is left.

Not so, says Doomsday! No, what actually happens is that everyone gets all angry, tattooing their bodies and restyling their looks to form an entire country that would be completely at home at a punk rock concert. Mohawks, leather jackets, chains, nose piercings, the works. Then, naturally, they’d resort to cannibalism. Because that makes complete and logical sense.

It’s this last part that had me reeling, even inside of Doomsday’s twisted logic. First of all, 1% of the population still had 100% of the population’s canned foods and whatnot, which should’ve lasted a good long time. Then there’s the thought that they have an entire empty country, which they could use to, I don’t know, grow crops or fish or something. What did people do before modern civilization, anyway? Were we all cannibals until the mid-1800s? The final kicker is that the movie actually shows the military team early on moving through a huge — and we’re talking thousands here — field of cows. So cannibalism isn’t a necessity, it’s just a pop culture trend by people too bored to start teaching school and a town council.

Anyway, once the military team encounters the Mad Max punk cannibals of Scotland, their plan is shredded right and quick, and only One-Eyed Tough Girl is left to get the job done. This she does with stoic brutality, hacking and slashing and clubbing and shooting her way to the solution. In retrospect, her high school guidance counselor was right on the nose about her.

Director Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent) is batting three for three in my estimation. As silly as Doomsday comes off on paper — and to be honest, on screen as well — it’s a film that looks good, hits all the right action spots, and isn’t afraid to lob high-explosive entertainment even as it’s slicing off limbs left and right. Those squirmish might want to steer clear of all of this, but in the field of dreary end-of-the-world cinema, Doomsday actually enjoys its setting and lets itself be free to come up with the craziest spectacle that it can imagine.

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