Watch Doomsday if you want to be the first one to go.
It has Malcolm McDowell and Bob Hoskins, so it must be good right? Unfortunately, no. Instead of trying to focus on what Doomsday can teach us about survival in a post-outbreak world, let’s take look at what it cant teach us instead, which is a lot.
Taking place in a near future in which the UK has been devastated by by a zombie-like virus called the “Reaper Virus”. Doomsday assumes that the virus destroys proper British society in the year of its release, 2008. By the time the dust settles, the year is 2035 and Scotland has been quarantined behind 60 foot walls in an effort to contain the virus.
While the rest of the planet seems relatively untouched by this misfortune, world powers turn their backs on the United Kingdom in what helps establish a premise in which the UK must survive politically and economically alone in isolation. However the real “meat and potatoes” of this film’s survival aspect is when the London-based future government sends a team of high-tech soldiers into the north (Scotland) in order to track down a cure for the virus which has made its way south. The entire foundation of this film is based around a vision of director Neil Marshall to have futuristic super-soldiers fighting medieval knights, and that’s basically what he eventually brings to fruition on screen.
What we see in Doomsday is a post-modern society that has been left to its own devices in order to survive. Beyond the wall in Scotland, there are two surviving classes of society: raider/marauder types who survive on cannibalism, as well as those who prefer to live in medieval fashion with the outfits and everything. While the emergence of either society seems likely enough between people who are left behind to scavenge for themselves, it seems unlikely that one wouldn’t cancel the other out. What must be considered is that this is a land without ammunition, and even those with guns have nothing to shoot. Ergo in Doomsday’s Scotland of 2035; clubs, swords, arrows and pipes are about as good as you will find in weaponry, so it makes sense that either would hold their ground.
The raiding marauder class does however have gasoline (petrol), so while they do seem to have vehicles, and LOTS of fire, they can’t seem to figure out pressing bullets. Where the wheels fall off the cart is when we have to suspend our disbelief that with such an obvious advantage in technology, how to do the marauders not wipe out the knights? Because the knights have chivalry and honor?
In either event, another thing to note is that all of the marauders are young, good looking, tattooed and wear lots of makeup. In a world where is so little food that they must turn to cannibalism, how do these raiders find the time and wherewithal to stay fit, and stylish?
The medieval society of the film may as well have come out of any other medieval film; they farm, raise livestock and have localized government not beholden to modern technology. They basically just went back to what Scotland would have been before industrialization, so it kind of makes sense.
While Doomsday is entertaining if you like a grimy, British adventure reminiscent of a cross between 28 Days Later and Escape from New York, it offers very little educational redemption in that it doesn’t give the viewer many realistic survival lessons to consider. While we are left to assume there is no electricity, water or food; we are left to figure this out by observing the presence of cannibals. The marauders just raise further questions if anything, but the medieval class could have certainly taught us a thing or two.
Near the end of Doomsday, we get to see a bit of a car chase scene which reveals how the marauders have outfitted some of their vehicles to be a bit more “post-apocalyptic” and similar to something we would see in Mad Max. This at least depicts a little bit more than just aesthetic resourcefulness on the marauders’ part, but it’s a bit too little, too late to be able to understand anything about their mechanical experiences or even why their vehicles look like they are from centuries after a collapse, not decades.