Thirty years after a massive, insurmountable wall was erected around Scotland to contain the outbreak of a virulent plague, a one-eyed badass and her elite posse are sent in on a perilous mission. Recent human activity has been spotted within the wasteland, suggesting that a cure had been found … and with flare-ups of the plague suddenly occurring outside the walls, the clock is ticking. Now, then: Just how to deal with those punk-rock mutants in their ghetto-armor dune buggies?
In short, Doomsday is a 28 Days Later/Escape From New York mashup with heavy samples from the Mad Max series. In some ways, by serving as a Greatest Hits of iconic moments from damn near every post-apocalyptic actioner made in the early ‘80s, the film could be compared to the Epic Movie cannibalistic approach to narrative (where the momentum is built on references rather than actual story), but done with reverence here.
The big difference is that I laughed a whole hell of a lot more during Doomsday than I did during Epic Movie … which is a good thing. I suppose. It helps to have one messed-up sense of humor.
And if nothing else, writer/ director Neil Marshall (The Descent) knows his post-apocalyptic movies like a DJ knows the vinyl in his collection; a Damnation Alley groove segueing into Beyond Thunderdome and on into such obscurities like Malevil without missing a beat. Mostly Doomsday plays like a big ol’ bloody valentine to John Carpenter; overtly based on the bass line of Escape From New York, with grace notes from other Carpenter films coyly woven in.
But like how a tribute band is never as satisfying as seeing the real thing (even if they hit the notes better than the original musicians), here Marshall doesn’t quite nail it in some indefinable way. He pulls off the action sequences much better than the antecedents—more exhilarating and bloodier than they could get away with back in the day—but somehow, in the end, the parts don’t measure up to a whole.