Doomsday isn't strictly a horror movie, it's a post apocalyptic adventure yarn. However it does have a load of blood, is written and directed by Neil Marshall and is set in Scotland. That's enough to merit a review!
Doomsday as been described as "Mad Max meets Escape From New York in Scotland" and that’s not a bad summary. The premise is that a deadly "Reaper" virus emerges in Glasgow and spreads rapidly. Unable to find a cure the British government orders the whole of Scotland cordoned off - a giant wall is built not just across the land but also surrounding the country by sea (I reckon that would give a total length of about 900 miles if the Northern Isles are excluded). Scotland is quarantined and left to fend for itself, quickly descending into savagery. Some 25 years later the Reaper virus breaks out again, this time in London, and a crack team is sent into Scotland to try and find a cure.
With a preposterous set-up like that, Doomsday is clearly ideally suited for a tongue in cheek approach. Which is what Marshall gives it.
Some of the time.
That's the big problem with Doomsday, the film doesn't really seem to know what mood it's aiming for. At times it's pure over-the-top camp excess and these are the scenes where it works best. Then at other times it tries to be an exciting action thriller or goes for political commentary. These could work together as ingredients of a great recipe, unfortunately Marshall fails to get them to gel and the result is a rather lumpy mess.
Acting is also variable. Stand out performance comes from Craig Conway who does a wonderful energetic job as the psychotic gang leader Sol. The two big names (Bob Hoskins as Nelson and Malcolm MacDowell as Kane) deliver the quality you’d expect from them, but neither get much screen time. The main characters are Norton (Adrian lester) and Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra). Lester is given the opportunity to play something other than the lightweight nice guy part he normally gets and does a decent if unexceptional job. Unfortunately Mitra is just dreadful and gives the impression of trying too hard to take things seriously.
The storyline is similarly uneven, more akin to a road trip than a coherent plot arc. At times it feels like several episodes of a TV series run back to back - even the ending makes it look like a TV pilot.
This could - and should - have been a great movie but, as with The Descent, it gives the impression of Marshall trying to do too many different things at the same time and not really pulling it off. It lacks any convincing overall vision. Even the Scottish location is underused - with the exception of the accents and a few building shots the action could be taking place anywhere.
Doomsday is a very patchy film, moments of brilliance interspersed with second rate yawns. It’s worth watching - once.