Neil Marshall's eagerly anticipated (at least by horror geeks) follow-up to his intense THE DESCENT is an ambitious homage to the violent fantasy adventures of another era, post-apocalyptic epics like ROAD WARRIOR, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, DEAD END DRIVE-IN, THE BLOOD OF HEROES and their innumerable clones, as well as Medieval bash-'em-ups like FLESH + BLOOD. Set to songs by Adam and the Ants, Siouxie and the Banshees and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, it's a total 80's rewind.
London, 2035. 27 years ago, the incurable Reaper virus decimated the population of Glasgow, prompting the English government to build a 30-foot armored security wall across Britain and leave their neighbors to the north to die horribly of disease or starvation amid total anarchy. Now, however, it seems the disease has come home to roost. Shunned by the rest of the world in the wake of the Scottish horror, England is already on the verge of collapse when, during a routine drug bust, a team from the Department of Domestic Security finds a room full of Reaper victims deep in the heart of London. Prime Minister Hatcher (Alexander Siddig) declares a state of emergency, the city is quarantined and Hatcher's right hand, Michael Canaris (David O'Hara), calls in DDS chief Bill Nelson (Bob Hoskins) for a top-secret meeting. Three years ago, Canaris tells him, a satellite picked up images of survivors on the streets of Glasgow: The British government sat on the information knowing it would only prompt further condemnation for leaving millions of people to die. If there are survivors, there must be a cure, possibly the antidote Dr. Kane (Malcolm McDowell) was working on in a fortified Glasgow hospital before he, too, presumably fell victim to the disease. Now the Crown needs someone to lead a team back across the rubicon and retrieve Dr. Kane's research and possibly even a survivor. Nelson knows just the person for the job: DDS's own Major Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra), a Scot whose mother managed to smuggle her out of the country with the fast retreating troops, and who grew up with a serious chip on her shoulder. Accompanying her into this toxic no-man's land will be Drs. Sterling (Sean Pertwee) and Talbot (Darren Morfitt) -- a two-man medical task force who were studying the virus before their funding dried up -- and a small military squad led by Sergeant Norton (Adrian Lester). Much to Sinclair's surprise, the expedition is outfitted with tanks, grenades and heavy duty ordinance: Whatever lives behind the iron wall is still angry and no longer quite civilized.
No one who's seen THE DESCENT or Marshall's debut, DOG SOLDIERS, will be surprised by the high-level of gore on display: Severed heads and hands fly in all directions, bodies gets smeared across highways during high-speed chase sequences and one unlucky bastard gets barbequed. The film's bizarre sense of humor – which doesn't always hit the mark – is something new. Still, Marshall delivers what he promises and Mitri makes for a cool, kick-arse heroine in the Ellen Ripley mold. It's hard to call such a movie derivative when there's such obvious respect and affection for its sources, and it makes recommendations easy: If you liked any of the aforementioned movies, there's a good chance you'll like this. leave a comment --Ken Fox