Doomsday is a film directed by Neil Marshall, who, as far as I’m concerned, hasn’t made a single bad movie in his whole career so far (but I haven’t seen his 2019 Hellboy which apparently isn’t very good). This is his third film and it came out in 2008, six years after Dog Soldiers and three years after The Descent, what a career start! Better than most contemporary directors!
So, let’s talk about Doomsday. Due to the lethal Reaper virus, the British government decides to quarantine all of Scotland. After twenty-five years, some infected are found in London and the government chaired by John Hatcher (played by Alexander Siddig, that is Deep Space Nine’s Dr. Bashir) sends a team of soldiers (and two scientists played by Sean Pertwee and Darren Morfitt) to Scotland to find a cure. The reason is simple: satellite images revealed survivors in the larger cities, and the most important laboratory working on a cure for the infection was there, directed by Dr. Kane (the legendary Malcolm McDowell who also narrates the prologue of the movie).
The beautiful Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra) leads the team. She was born in Scotland and when she was only a few years old, during the last hours before the Scottish borders were closed, her mother entrusted her to some of the last British soldiers evacuating the territory. When Sinclair and her team enter Scotland, they discover soon that there’s far more than a few survivors beyond the wall… And here I stop in order to avoid spoilers!
Why do I like Doomsday so much? Because it has all the right references, it pays homage to a certain type of action and science fiction cinema that was in vogue mainly in the 1980s and manages to become a worthy exponent of it. It’s easy to see the influence of John Carpenter, with the protagonist with an eye patch who has a few hours to enter an isolated area to find something and get out (it doesn’t matter if it’s the cure for a virus or a tape in the hands of the President as in Escape from New York, 1981). One of the team (played by actor Leslie Simpson) is even called Carpenter!
But there’s also some Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later (2002), with the lethal virus and the soundtrack which at times reminds of the main theme of that fantastic movie. There’s a lot of the Mad Max saga made by George Miller due to the post apocalyptic scenario and the punks on motorcycles and various other motorized vehicles. There’s James Cameron’s Aliens (1985) with the marines entering the city under heavy rain with armored vehicles and with a strong female protagonist Ellen Ripley style. There’s even some The Warriors (1979) by Walter Hill with the gangs at war with each other in a dark and semi-deserted place. There are so many references to great films and directors that it’s impossible not to love Doomsday!
Well, Marshall added also a bit of John Boorman’s Excalibur (1981) with the blood spurting from the pierced medieval armors in a scenario close to that of Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness (1992)!
But, as said, Doomsday isn’t just an empty container of quotes and references! It’s also a film through which Neil Marshall seems to tell us that our society, be it medieval, contemporary, or post apocalyptic, is always in bad shape. We are always slaughtering each other (metaphorically or not) for the benefit of a few powerful rulers. Incidentally, it’s incredible to notice the similarities between the plot of this movie and how the British government is managing the coronavirus crisis: at least according to the statements of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in early March 2020, his government is more concerned about losing millions of pounds than millions of citizens due to the virus!
To conclude, in my opinion there are a thousand reasons to watch and rewatch Doomsday, I highly recommend it! Ciao!