Okay, well maybe not exactly “fun.” I guess it depends on what all you’re into, and badass women and post-apocalyptic marauders happen to be at the top of my list. With some of these retro reviews, I feel like some kind of champion for films that were mostly unloved at the time of their release. Is that the case with DOOMSDAY (2008)?
Let’s find out!
Keep in mind, I love so many different things about the movies I enjoy, and sometimes it can be the absurdity of how awful it is. But I think since I started making them, and became friends with others who make them, I started to see the effort. So it’s harder for me to dismiss or diss a movie when I know there’s a whole team of dedicated and committed people who come together to make what we see on screen.
That said, I saw Doomsday when it was released in theaters. I was a fan of Neil Marshall from The Descent and Dog Soldiers, and especially The Descent. That was the first movie I saw in a long time that had me scared. I had me looking all around the parking lot walking to my car after I left the theater. I totally expected to get snatched up by a humanoid bat creature lurking in the shadows! So I just knew Doomsday was going to be good.
Lee-Ann Liebenberg as Viper
How Did They Become All Post-Apocalyptic? Funny You Should Ask…
In 2008 there was an outbreak of a deadly virus in Scotland that they affectionately call ‘The Reaper Virus.’ All hell breaks loose, as it tends to do. Without a cure, the British government does the next best thing. They build a giant wall that isolates Scotland, ultimately causing them (and the rest of the UK, not sure about The Republic of Ireland, but we’ll say they were fine) to collapse into a dystopia. Otherwise, all seems well until 25 years later when the virus reappears in London.
Cue badass woman, Major Eden Sinclair of the Department of Domestic Security (Rhona Mitra Underworld: Rise of the Lycans 2009). When Prime Minister Hatcher (Alexander Siddig Reign of Fire 2002) gets surveillance video of survivors roaming Scotland, he orders Sinclair’s boss, Captain Nelson (Bob Hoskins Brazil 1985), to assemble a recovery team and send them into Scotland. The mission is to find researcher Dr. Kane (Malcolm McDowell Time After Time 1979) and bring him back to work on a cure. Which he was in the process of doing before the wall went up.
Once inside Scotland, Major Sinclair and her team discover a community of cannibal marauders who survived the Reaper Virus and basically thrive on human flesh and post-apocalyptic shenanigans. They’re captured by the marauders and taken to their leader, Sol (Craig Conway The Irregulars 2021), who’s determined to find out where they came from because he and the remaining survivors were led to believe that everyone else had died.
Sinclair and what’s left of her crew manage to escape them and continue on their way to find Dr. Kane, who lives in his own medieval fantasy in an attempt to keep the “outside world” at bay in order to maintain purity among his people.
Dr. Kane has no interest in returning and instead offers up Sinclair in a gladiator-style battle with one of his humongoid knights. And, no surprise there, she beats him and makes her way back to England with the few remaining people on her team and a potential cure.
Is It Worth a Watch?
All-in-all, I don’t feel Doomsday is a movie you watch for its original storyline, complex characters, or any unique offerings. Because there are none. It’s a little Resident Evil, a little bit of Mad Max, and some sprinklings of Escape from L.A. And yes, there’s a Mad Max-esque chase scene complete with a doomy-death car and a live human strapped to it versus a late model Bently. That last bit had me chuckling.
There is plenty of fun, humorous moments throughout the film, pretty decent action, and fight scenes. I do like how there was this parallel with the dystopian society presented as if it were civilized, by comparison to the standard post-apocalyptic chaos, and then there’s Dr. Kane’s Arthurian fantasy, each thinks they’re right in what they do, but all are just generally effed up. I also think there’s something fun about presenting post-apocalyptic characters. Good or bad, they’re either fun to watch, or definitely fun to laugh at.
For those who look at the quality of aesthetics, Doomsday is actually a pretty great-looking film. Lots of fantastic lighting, great set design, and rich color. I’m a stickler for color. I also give some bonus points for a nifty soundtrack and score by one of my favorites, Tyler Bates; minus the last piece that very clearly replicates John Murphy’s In the House in a Heartbeat from 28 Days Later.
Doomsday is currently streaming on Tubi if you’re feeling adventurous and also have a general love of all things post-apocalyptic.