This Plot Synopsis Is Empty: Doomsday (2008)

Posted by Charles Reece, March 14, 2008 06:12pm | Post a Comment

While everyone else was yucking it up at Haneke's remake of his own Funny Games, I went to see Neil Marshall's Doomsday.  I was really wanting to see the former, but I might be seeing that with a friend tomorrow (at least, assuming she finds Funny Games more chick-friendly than Doomsday).   Imdb's current plot synopsis is pretty accurate as it stands, presumably waiting for some user to come along and fill it in.  That's pretty much what Marshall's film is, a cobbled together group of signifiers waiting for the viewer to connect them to some signifieds.  The series of posters above says all you need to know about the film, but what the hell, I'll say a little more:

[Spoiler Warning: if you want to be surprised by the derivative content, finding enjoyment in noticing it yourself, read no further.]

It has a contaminating virus just like 28 Days Later, which was itself just like The Crazies.

It has a region quarantined off from the rest of civilization (this time, Scotland), with the remaining people left to rot, just like 28 Weeks Later, which itself borrowed the bit from Escape From New York.

It has a little girl who loses her family during the initial infestation and develops into a Wonder Woman, just like Resident Evil.

The little girl loses her eye, and when not wearing a synthetic eye as an adult, dons an eye patch, just like in Kill Bill, which took its one-eyed gal from Thriller: A Cruel Picture.

It has a team of specialists sent on a task that's not exactly what the bureaucrats claimed it to be, just like Aliens.

The heroine, along with her team, has to go into the quarantined zone to find a scientist, just like Escape From New York.

Speaking of Tarantino films and Wonder Woman, Doomsday has a bondage sequence, where the heroine, Eden, is chained up and beaten while a guy in black latex is hunched over and getting off in the background, just like Pulp Fiction.

The decaying city remains are ruled by a group of tattooed cannibals sporting colored mohawks from 80s Hollywood teen films.  Maybe Marshall hasn't spent much time in Hollywood, but a good rule of thumb for him or any filmmaker is that mohawks and tattoos suggest bourgeois privilege more than dangerous anarchy these days.  In other words, Mad Max meets Valley Girl for a party up in the Beverly Hills Have Eyes.

It has really terrible, inappropriate music, just like John Carpenter's films.  During the big punkster gathering scene lifted from Beyond Thunderdome, we get to hear a bunch of 80s pop songs by the likes of Siouxie & the Banshees, suggesting John Hughes rather than dystopia.  There's even a ruling diva who's the inverse of Tina Turner in the previous film -- same hair, but it's dark and she's white.

One man enters, one man gets eaten: Marshall uses cannibalism to make some vague, dipshitted social point, just like Cannibal Holocaust.

There's a big car chase scene through the "wasteland" between the heroine and the would-be mall punks (if there were any malls left).  You know, just like Road Warrior, only the wasteland in question is actually quite beautiful and pastoral and not likely to be some place that the ruling class would let go to the troglodytes when the cities are so over-populated in the future.   Marshall's one innovation here is having his heroine drive the same product placement as appeared in the latest version of Casino Royale.

Knights in full armor are still around, just like in Knightriders.

According to the Revengers Tragedy, the Jacobean aesthetic returns somewhere around 2011, and it continues in Doomsday when the heroine meets up with the other surviving group, ruled by Malcolm McDowell.  Where the pristine 400 year old clothes came from, I don't know.  McDowell also provides a voiceover that sounds pretty close to Richard O'Brien's in Jubilee.  (That makes two voiceovers from McDowell I've heard in just one week, the other being Justice League: A New Frontier.)

While in McDowell's kingdom (yes, there's a castle), there's another "2 men enter" scene, but this time with a woman, a knight who looks like that big baby creature from Beyond Thunderdome, and no cannibalism.

Slap a bunch of Biblical names onto the characters for potential Web-exegeses, a la The Matrix, and you get the picture.

Finally, the film sucks just like Chloë Sevigny in The Brown Bunny.

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Cinema Criticism (32), Doomsday (3), Neil Marshall (1)