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Doomsday (Movies)
Doomsday (Movies)
Doomsday (Movies)
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Information about Doomsday

Doomsday is a 2008 (13 years ago) British science fiction action movie written and directed by Neil Marshall. The movie takes place in the future, where Scotland has been quarantined due to the onset of a deadly virus. When the virus emerges in London, political leaders send Major Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra) to Scotland to find a cure based on evidence of survivors. Sinclair and her team run into two groups of survivors: marauders and medieval warriors. Doomsday was conceived by Marshall based on his vision of a futuristic soldier facing a medieval knight. In producing the film, he drew from various cinema, including Mad Max, Escape from New York, and other post-apocalyptic films.

Marshall was financially supported by a budget three times the size of his previous two films, The Descent and Dog Soldiers, and the director filmed the larger-scale Doomsday in Scotland and South Africa, the latter which was used as backdrop for Scotland. Production involved filming in Blackness Castle and filming a high-speed car chase for the climax. The movie was released on 14 Mar. 2008 (13 years ago) in the United States and Canada and in the United Kingdom on 9 May 2008 (13 years ago). Doomsday did not perform well at the box office, and critics gave the movie mixed and average reviews.



In 2008 (13 years ago), the Reaper virus infects Scotland, resulting in the country being walled off by the British government. A Scottish woman brings her little daughter, injured in one eye but otherwise healthy, to soldiers for rescue. The mother convinces them to airlift her daughter and gives her daughter an envelope. Years pass after the successful quarantine, with the contained population apparently dying off. Decades later, the virus, thought to be contained, reappears in London. Prime Minister Hatcher and his puppeteer Canaris share with domestic security chief Captain Nelson news of survivors in Scotland, believing a cure may have been found. They ask him to send a team into the walled-off area to find medical researcher Dr. Kane, who was last known to be working on a cure when Scotland was quarantined. Nelson chooses Major Eden Sinclair, the little girl now grown up with a cybernetic eye replacing her lost eye, to lead the team.

Inside the wall, while investigating Kane's last known location, Sinclair and her team are ambushed by plague survivors. As some team members are killed, Sinclair and Dr. Talbot are captured while Sergeant Norton and Dr. Stirling manage to escape. Sinclair is interrogated and tortured by the leader of the survivors, Sol. Dr. Talbot is barbecued alive by the cannibalistic survivors. During the cookout, Sinclair escapes from her cell and comes across Kane's daughter, Cally, also imprisoned. Freed by Sinclair, Cally leads her to a waiting train manned by her friend Joshua, and Norton and Stirling meet up with them to escape from Sol and his men. The train takes them to the mountains, where they take a shortcut through a hidden military facility to the castle where Kane dwells. They are surrounded by Kane's medieval soldiers, Joshua is killed, and everyone else surrenders to Kane's medieval men. Sinclair discovers from Kane that the survivors are naturally immune and that he has been warring with his son, Sol. There is no cure for the virus. Sinclair defeats Kane's executioner, Telamon, in an open arena within the castle, and her teammates help her escape from the castle. They retreat to the facility and find a Bentley in storage to use as escape, though Norton is killed in the process.

In London, political leaders plan to seal off the "hot spot" where the virus is spreading. Canaris convinces Hatcher to let the infected population dwindle before sharing any cure Sinclair's team may provide so the population is more controllable against infection in the future. Although the government leaders are isolated, an infected man successfully infiltrates their location and infects Hatcher. Hatcher, knowing that he has the virus, commits suicide, and Canaris takes over Hatcher's position as Prime Minister.

In Scotland, Sinclair, Cally, and Stirling run into Sol's men on the highway and lead them on a car chase. Sol attempts to hijack the Bentley, but while he is on the roof, Sinclair plows the car through a roadblocked bus, decapitating him. Using a GPS cell phone also taken from the facility, Sinclair summons a government gunship and hands over the cure to Canaris: the immune survivor Cally from whose blood a vaccine can be replicated. Canaris, who arrives with the gunship, shares his plan with Sinclair to withhold the cure for political reasons and invites her back to London. Sinclair chooses to stay and goes to find her old home located at the address on the envelope her mother had left her. Nelson, having been given the envelope by Sinclair before she left on the mission, finds her there. Sinclair provides Nelson a video of her conversation with Canaris, which she recorded with her cybernetic eye. Nelson takes the recording back to London and airs it publicly, exposing Canaris' plan to hold back the cure. Sinclair returns to the location where she and her team were first attacked by the cannibalistic tribe and, presenting them with Sol's severed head, is cheered as their new leader.


  • Rhona Mitra as Major Eden Sinclair of the Department of Domestic Security, selected to lead a team to find a cure. The heroine was inspired by the character Snake Plissken. Mitra worked out and trained in fighting for eleven weeks for the film. Marshall described Mitra's character as a soldier who has been rendered cold from her military indoctrination, and her journey to find the cure for the virus is one of redemption. The character was originally written to have "funny" lines, but the director scaled back on the humor to depict Sinclair as more "hardcore".
  • Bob Hoskins as Bill Nelson, Eden Sinclair's boss. Marshall sought to have Hoskins emulate his "bulldog" role from the 1980 (41 years ago) movie The Long Good Friday.
  • Malcolm McDowell as Marcus Kane, a former scientist who now lives as a feudal lord in an abandoned castle. McDowell described his character as a King Lear. According to Marshall, Kane is based on Kurtz from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The director originally sought to bring Sean Connery (5 walls) out of retirement to play Kane but was unsuccessful.
  • Alexander Siddig as Prime Minister John Hatcher. Marshall originally wrote Hatcher as a sympathetic character misguided by Canaris, but revised the character to be more like Canaris in embracing political manipulation.
  • David O'Hara as Michael Canaris, the prime minister's puppeteer. Canaris was depicted to have a fascist background, speaking lines that paralleled Adolf Hitler's mindset of cleansing.
  • Craig Conway as Sol, Kane's son and the leader of the marauders. He has a biohazard sign tattooed on his back to reflect how the survivors noticed the sign everywhere and copied the design. Sol also has a scar across his chest from a wound given to him by his father, Kane.


Director Neil Marshall originally resided near the ruins of Hadrian's Wall, a Roman fortification in England that had been built to defend against Scotland's inhabitants. In 2003 (18 years ago), the director had fantasised about what conditions would call for the Wall to be rebuilt and conceived of the threat of a lethal virus. Marshall had also visualised a mixture of medieval and futuristic elements: "I had this vision of these futuristic soldiers with high-tech weaponry and body armour and helmets—clearly from the future—facing a medieval knight on horseback." The director favoured the boundary between England and Scotland as the central setting for a rebuilt wall, finding the location more geographically plausible than the more lengthy boundary shared by the United States and Canada. Additionally, Scotland was the home to multiple castles, which contributed to the medieval aspect of Marshall's vision.

The lethal virus in Doomsday differs from contemporary movies like 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later (4 walls) by being an authentic plague that actually decimates the population, instead of infecting people to behave aggressively. Marshall intended the virus as the backdrop to the film's story, having immune survivors scavenge for themselves and set up a primitive society. The director drew from tribal history around the world to design the society, implementing tribal characteristics like tattoos and sacrifice. Though the survivors are depicted as brutal, Marshall sought to have "shades of gray" by characterising some people within walled-off England as selfishly manipulative.

The director intended Doomsday as an homage to post-apocalyptic movies from the 1970 (51 years ago) and 1980s, explaining, "Right from the start, I wanted my movie to be an homage to these sorts of movies, and deliberately so. I wanted to make a movie for a new generation of audience that hadn't seen those movies in the cinema—hadn't seen them at all maybe—and to give them the same thrill that I got from watching them. But kind of contemporise it, pump up the action and the blood and guts." Cinematic influences on Doomsday include:


Rogue pictures (wallpaper) signed Marshall to direct Doomsday in Oct. 2005 (16 years ago), and in Nov. 2006 (15 years ago), actress Rhona Mitra was signed to star in Doomsday as the leader of the elite team. Production was budgeted at £17 million, an amount that was triple the combined total of Marshall's previous two films, Dog Soldiers (2002, 19 years ago) and The Descent (2005, 16 years ago). The increase in scale was a challenge to the director, who had been accustomed to small casts and limited locations. Marshall described the broader experience: "There's fifty or more speaking parts; I'm dealing with thousands of extras, logistical action sequences, explosions, car chases—the works."

Part of filming took place inside Blackness Castle in Scotland.Production began in Feb. 2007 (14 years ago) in South Africa, where the majority of filming took place. South Africa was chosen as a primary filming location for economic reasons, costing a third of estimated production in the United Kingdom. Shooting in South Africa lasted 56 days out of 66 days, with the remaining ten taking place in Scotland. Marshall said of South Africa's appeal, "The landscape, the rock formations, I thought it was about as close to Scotland as you're likely to get, outside of Ireland or Wales." In Scotland, secondary filming took place in the city of Glasgow, including Haghill in the city's East End and at Blackness Castle in West Lothian, the latter chosen when filmmakers were unable to shoot at Doune Castle. The entire shoot, involving thousands of extras, included a series of complex fight scenes and pyrotechnical displays. The director sought to minimise the use of computer-generated elements in Doomsday, preferring to subscribe to "old-school filmmaking". In the course of production, several sequences were dropped due to budgetary concerns, including a scene in which helicopter gunships attacked a medieval castle.

A massive car chase scene was filmed for Doomsday, described by Marshall to be one part Mad Max, one part Bullitt (1968, 53 years ago), and one part "something else entirely different". Marshall had seen the Aston Martin DBS (15 walls) V12 used in the James Bond movie Casino Royale (4 walls) (2006, 15 years ago) and sought to implement a similarly "sexy" car. The filmmakers purchased three new Bentleys for US$150,000 each since the car company did not do product placement. The movie also contains the director's trademark gore and violence from previous films, including a scene where a character is cooked alive and eaten. Paul Hyett, the prosthetic make-up designer who worked on The Descent, contributed to the production, researching diseases including sexually transmitted diseases to design the make-up for victims of the Reaper virus.

Visual effects

The visual effects for Doomsday stemmed from the 1980 (41 years ago) stunt-based films, involving approximately 275 visual effects shots. While filmmakers did not seek innovative visual effects, they worked with budget restrictions by creating set extensions. With most shots taking place in daylight, the extensions involved matte paint and 2D and 3D solutions. The visual effects crew visited Scotland to take reference photos so scenes that were filmed in Cape Town, South Africa could instead have Scottish backgrounds. Several challenges for the visual effects crew included the illustration of cow overpopulation in line with a decimated human population and the convincing creation of the rebuilt Hadrian Wall in different lights and from different distances. The most challenging visual effects shot in Doomsday was the close-up in which a main character is burned alive. The shot required multiple enhancements and implementations of burning wardrobe, burning pigskin, and smoke and fire elements to look authentic.

Neil Marshall's car chase sequence also involved the use of visual effects. A scene in which the Bentley crashes through a bus was intended to implement pyrotechnics, but fire marshals in the South African nature reserve, the filming location for the scene, forbade their use due to dry conditions. A miniature mock-up was created and visual effects were applied so the filming of the mock-up would overlay the filming of the actual scene without pyrotechnics. Other visual effects that were created were the Thames flood plain and a remote Scottish castle. A popular effect with the visual effects crew was the "rabbit explosion" scene, depicting a rabbit being shot by guns on automatic sensors. The crew sought to expand the singular shot, but Neil Marshall sought to focus on one shot to emphasize its comic nature and avoid drawing unnecessary sympathy from audiences.


Marshall originally intended to include 1980 (41 years ago) synth music in his film, but he found it difficult to combine the music with the intense action. Instead, composer Tyler Bates composed a score using heavy orchestra music. The movie also included songs from the bands Adam and the Ants, Fine Young Cannibals, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Kasabian. The song "Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood was the only song to remain in the movie from the first draft of the screenplay. "Spellbound" by Siouxsie & the Banshees was a favorite song by the director, who sought to include it. Marshall also hoped to include the song "Into The Light" by the Banshees, but it was left out due to the producer disliking it and the cost being too high to license it.


Doomsday was not screened for critics in advance of its commercial opening in theaters. The movie received mixed and average reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 48% of critics gave the movie positive write-ups, based on a sample of 61, with an average score of 5/10. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the movie has received an average score of 51, based on 14 reviews. Alison Rowat of The Herald perceived Doomsday as "decidedly everyday" for a thriller, with Marshall's script having too many unanswered questions and characters not fully developed despite a decent cast. Rowat said, "In his previous films, Marshall made something out of nothing. Here he does the opposite." The critic acknowledged the attempted homages and the B-movie approach but thought that "there has to be something more". Steve Pratt of The Northern Echo weighed in, "As a writer, Marshall leaves gaping holes in the plot while as a director he knows how to extract maximum punch from car chases, beatings and fights without stinting on the gore as body parts are lopped off with alarming frequency and bodies squashed to a bloody pulp." Philip Key of the Liverpool Daily Post described the film, "Doomsday is a badly thought-out science fiction saga which leaves more questions than answers."

Alonso Duralde of MSNBC described Doomsday: "It's ridiculous, derivative, confusingly edited and laden with gore, but it's the kind of over-the-top grindhouse epic that wears down your defenses and eventually makes you just go with it." Duralde believed that Mitra's character would have qualified as a "memorable fierce chick" if the movie was not so silly. David Hiltbrand of The Philadelphia Inquirer rated Doomsday at 2.5 out of 4 stars and thought that the movie was better paced than most fantasy-action films, patiently building up its action scenes to the major "fireworks" where other movies would normally be exhausted early on.

Reviewer James Berardinelli found the production of Doomsday to be a mess, complaining, "The action sequences might be more tense if they weren't obfuscated by rapid-fire editing, and the backstory is muddled and not all that interesting." Berardinelli also believed the attempted development of parallel storylines to be too much for the film, weakening the eventual payoff. Dennis Harvey of Variety said Neil Marshall's "flair for visceral action" made up for Doomsday's lack of originality and that the movie barely had a dull moment. He added, "There's no question that Doomsday does what it does with vigor, high technical prowess and just enough humor to avoid turning ridiculous." Harvey considered the conclusion relatively weak, and found the quality of the acting satisfactory for the genre, while reserving praise for the "stellar" work of the stunt personnel. Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle also praised the film's stunts, noting that it was reminiscent of "the beauty of the exploitation movie era". Hartlaub said of the effect, "Hire a couple of great stuntmen and a halfway sober cinematographer, and you didn't even need a screenwriter."

Matt Zoller Seitz of The New York Times saw Rhona Mitra's character as a mere impersonation of Snake Plissken and considered the film's major supporting characters to be "lifeless". Seitz described his discontent over the lack of innovation in the director's attempted homages of older films: "Doomsday is frenetic, loud, wildly imprecise and so derivative that it doesn’t so much seem to reference its antecedents as try on their famous images (wallpaper) like a child playing dress-up."


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