Doomsday (2008)

Have you ever watched Escape from New York and thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if Snake Plissken was a British woman?”

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I am intrigued, tell me more.

Okay, so Doomsday is nothing original. But it does it with gusto. It is essentially a mash-up of  a whole pile of classic post-apocalyptic movies from the 1980s, but British.

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At least my spandex is all black, no cammo.

We follow one-eyed badass Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra) into a rescue scenario in said post-apocalyptic wasteland, time limit to get back, medical emergency, malevolent government forces… etc. Other than some seriously underwhelming skeletal remains (seriously, guys, who dressed your set? It looks more like the Nightmare before Christmas than a doomsday scenario) and some somewhat preposterous costumes (where DO you get plastic skeletons, gimp suits, and hair dye after the end of the world?), the movie has some real pluses.

First, I liked seeing a tight-lipped female lead. She doesn’t talk about her feelings, she doesn’t fuss with her looks, she just goes in and gets the job done, Plissken-style. She does not share her plans with her (mostly doomed) compatriots, so the audience gets pulled into the action – you actually don’t know what will happen.

Second, I liked that the film set out to be an homage from the start. It shamelessly pillages and maintains the same campy style of its sources; it is not trying to reinvent the genre, but it does get some new laughs and winces. Style-wise, it pulls from some punk and somehow shoehorns in some Medieval Times (no joke), because how else would you dress in Scotland after the end of the world? The ending is also particularly good.

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Good might be the wrong term here.

Finally, again, this one is on Netflix, so it’s worth a watch if you are in the right kind of mood.

Mr. Jones (2014)

Fair warning: This film has a very low rating from most sources (IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, etc.). With that said, I was totally blown away, and I usually hate strongly dislike modern horror films. The movie manages to be spooky in the way that old horror movies used to. There is no blood, there is no gore, and yet it manages some real scares.

The plot is simple: a couple heads out to the boonies to film a nature documentary, only to find that their neighbour is a famous, reclusive artist only known as Mr. Jones.

large_mrjones_2Oh hey Mr. Jones… wait a minute, those darn kids!

From there, our fearless couple, Penny and Scott, change gears, and decide to make a documentary about the artist… without really asking his permission. Thus ensues a lot of sneaking around with handheld cameras. I really appreciated the fact that the film uses both “found footage” on the handheld, and nicely shot, professional film, including interviews with “art experts” about Mr. Jones’ work.

Additionally, the artwork supposedly by Mr. Jones is actually nicely made – it is both beautiful to look at and unsettling, tapping into fears of pagan ritual and scarecrows. There are many frightening moments, and none of them are overdone visually or amped up with cheesy music. The final confrontation is cleverly filmed, with a dreamlike quality that terrifies. Altogether, this film was a pleasant surprise, and since it’s on Neflix you should maybe give it a chance.