Doomsday (DVD)

Doomsday, however you cut it, is a load of old hairy sphericals. It makes no sense whatsoever. Its mission statement appears to be “if it can be blown up or run over, it will be blown up or run over. Possibly both”. Dialogue isn't spoken as much as spat. It doesn't require the suspension of disbelief as much as its surgical removal. It contains holes that you could drive several trains through, not just the usual one.

And you know what? It doesn't matter. I scribbled down two A4 pages of faults in the first 45 minutes before I realised that I'd missed the point because, in spite of the faults, the ludicrous behaviour and the excesses — indeed, probably because of the faults, the ludicrous behaviour and the excesses — Doomsday is about as much fun as you can have in a cinema without impinging public decency laws. Plot-wise, it's 28 Days Later meets Escape From New York (with a hint of every videogame from the past 10 years with a dash of, er, Camelot). In 2008, a virus hits Glasgow. Called Reaper, it leads to festering boils, running sores, unstoppable internal bleeding and the complete meltdown of all the important organs. There's no cure, it's spreading like wildfire and the Government has no choice but to close Scotland down. A 30ft steel fence is built across Hadrian's Wall, the coastline is mined, the airspace is declared a no-fly zone and everybody north of the border is left to die a horrible death.

Flash forward 25 years ... and Reaper has returned. In London. An overcrowded, falling-apart-at-the-seams London full of ghettos and a huge class divide. The offical verdict? “This town's going tits up in no short order” so the PM (Siddig) is panicking, the true mysterious power behind the office Canaris (O'Hara) is rubbing his hands with glee and the chief of security Nelson (Hoskins) is let in on a little secret. Satellite photos of Glasgow show that there are survivors. Survivors mean that Kane (McDowell), the Scottish doctor working on a cure, must have found one. All Nelson has to do is send his best people into Scotland to bring it back.

The team, lead by hard-as-nails Eden Sinclair (the ballsy Mitra) is dispatched but things go very wrong very quickly. What they discover is a horde of mohicaned Glaswegian psychos in bondage gear in a state of total anarchy: The Hills Have Ayes, if you like. Oh and they're cannibals. Also, instead of useful skills like engineering and roadsweeping and the like, the psychos have spent the last 25 years perfecting chainsaw-juggling, creative headshaving and face painting; see what happens when you quarantine Scotland during Festival time? Marshall then throws civil war into the mix – the mohicaned lot are rebelling against Kane who now rules over other survivors in a big castle, where they wear medieval costume because, as any fule kno, when civilisation breaks down, the only two options are Thunderdome or Narnia. You also get men in armour, gladiatorial combat, the single greatest deadpan use of the word “bollocks” in cinema history, a warehouse full of useful stuff like a Bentley... As I say, hairy sphericals but who cares?

Where 28 Days / Weeks Later took themselves so seriously even as the plot and logic fatally unravelled, Marshall and team have clearly decided “sod it” and have tried to get away with anything they can think of. It's testament to Marshall's undoubted skills as a director that they get away with pretty much all of it. The sillier it gets, the more enjoyable it becomes. The camper it gets — the climactic car chase is played out to the thumping sounds of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, for chrissakes — the more irresistible it is. Because of the holes and the silliness, it's impossible to justify more than three stars for Doomsday. But I'll be very surprised if you see a more enjoyable three star movie this decade.

EXTRAS *** An audio commentary with writer/director Marshall, plus cast members Pertwee, Darren Morfitt, Rick Warden and Les Simpson. Plus three making-of featurettes — Anatomy of Catastrophe: Civilisation on the Brink; The Visual Effects and Wizardry of Doomsday; and Devices of Death: Guns, Gadgets and Vehicles of Destruction.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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