Okay, okay, okay, Doomsday is almost, almost beyond comprehension. So absurd is every frame of this film that I don’t think I closed my mouth, or even blinked, more than a handful of times during the entire movie. Multiple times I was holding my head in my hands in disbelief. On a few occasions I actually turned to fellow audience members only to meet their gaze, and we shook our heads at each other, unable to believe what the fuck was happening up on that screen. I never talk in movies, but on more than one occasion I could not help but utter the phrase, “That’s just ridiculous”, out loud. No one seemed to mind.
And it is ridiculous, but lest anyone get confused, I was uttering these words in complete and total admiration, with a smile and a happy chuckle. The audacity on display in Neil Marshall’s follow up to his good-but-overrated spelunking thriller The Descent is baffling, and a cause for celebration.
Doomsday is a strange, strange film. On paper, aesthetically speaking, everything is wrong with this film. Wrong, wrong, wrong! It is poorly photographed. The editing is terrible. It is not well-written or well-scored or well-acted. And yet, it is intoxicating. It’s like watching a tornado tear through a Midwestern city, or an earthquake shake a metropolis to its foundations, or a tsunami wash out a coastal town. Doomsday is glorious not in spite of, but because of its ugly, repulsive, chaotic, vulgar, merciless momentum. It is the cinematic embodiment of a beautiful mess.
There is a scene featuring a human rotisserie, the chief villainess tossing paper picnic plates to a rabid audience so that they have somewhere to pile the cooked human flesh. There is a scene where the leader of the surviving dirtbags punches one of his dirtbag lackeys in the face for no other reason than insufferable frustration, screaming wildly “Noooooooooo!” as his prisoners escape right before his eyes. There is a scene where our heroine, driving a Bentley, launches into and crashes completely through a bus, coming through the other side unscathed. Bob Hoskins is in the movie being very serious.
Doomsday is something like the Frankenstein’s monster of movies. Cobbled together out of dead movies, out-of-fashion genres and forgotten directors, Doomsday is Mad Max meets Escape From New York meets Land Of The Dead. I’d even throw in a dash of Highlander. Because it just feels right. Doomsday is all over the place, like a kangaroo escaped from the zoo, like King Kong on the loose in Manhattan. It is like the sloppy, clumsy, but always fun madcap action of a bumper car rink. The electricity kicks on, too-small cars start sliding around, people bash into each other, get stuck, get out, speed along only to smash into a wall. This is what watching Doomsday is like. It is exceptional in its lack of grace. I walked out of the theater, my mind and body shaken, and found the nearest beer.