British filmmaker Neil Marshall earned a legion of new fans with 2005's The Descent, a genuinely scary flick that put me, for one, off spelunking forever. And for his next act? An energetic but derivative apocalyptic adventure that Rogue Pictures has unceremoniously dumped into theaters without press screenings or even much promotion.
Being one of Hollywood's Shameful Secrets™ (movies not screened for critics before they open) gives a film a certain stench, and it's too bad that Doomsday is stuck with it. It's not great -- I'm not even sure I'd call it "good" -- but the studios have certainly screened films that were worse. Heck, the studios have screened films that were worse this week (including one whose name rhymes with Mever Mack Mown). Doomsday is perfectly acceptable as a C+ movie, the kind that you don't see on purpose but that will certainly amuse you if you happen to stumble into the theater accidentally.
It begins with florid narration by Malcolm McDowell, who tells us that a horrific virus -- subtly called the Reaper Virus -- wiped out much of England. Then a wall was built to divide the infected northern half of Britain from the clean southern half, and all the sick people up north were left to die in chaos. "Social order decayed along with the corpses," McDowell says.