Doomsday (18)

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The Independent Culture

Doomsday is another over-ambitious follow-up to a low-budget smash. Neil Marshall's pot-holing horror thriller The Descent was feted for its claustrophobic setting and tightly focused premise, but his sprawling new film goes as far as possible in the opposite direction. It begins in the present day, with the outbreak of a viral epidemic in Scotland which leads to the whole country being quarantined behind a bullet-proof Hadrian's Wall. Thirty years on, the authorities learn that a scientist (Malcolm McDowell) may have developed a vaccine north of the border, so they send their top agent (Rhona Mitra) to find him. She and her team set off in an armoured car and quickly discover that Glasgow is now populated by bloodthirsty ravers sporting Mohicans and face paint.

Doomsday is Marshall's tribute to his favourite 1980s sci-fi action movies. There's not much left over when you mentally edit out all the pinchings from The Terminator, Alien, Escape from New York and the Mad Max franchise – and Marshall even gets back to the Eighties by sticking Fine Young Cannibals and Frankie Goes to Hollywood on the soundtrack. If you were feeling generous you'd call it a parody, which might excuse the wooden acting, naff dialogue and logic-free plotting, but I was definitely laughing at it more than I was laughing with it. I can accept a wimpy virus which leaves hundreds of hale and hearty survivors. And I'm OK with people eating human flesh even though there are herds of cattle roaming around. But the notion that Scotland still hasn't exhausted its Tennents Lager reserves after three post-apocalyptic decades – that's just getting silly.

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