Director/Screenplay/Photography – Neil Johnson, Producers – Blake Edgerton, Darren Jacobs, Neil Johnson & Ben Trebilcook, Music – My Silent Wake, Visual Effects – Neil Johnson & Mandy Hay Man Pui. Production Company – Still Night Monster Movies/Empire Motion Pictures.
Alain Terzoli (Achilles), Amy Pemberton (Cassie), Darren Jacobs (Byron Kennedy), Richard Lawrence (Erebus-7), Helen Soraya (Dedra Carlyle), Ben Trebilcook (Guido Wright), Zara Symes (Helen Chapel)
Byron and his American girlfriend Cassie are travelling through the Yorkshire Dales when they see a UFO crash. They rescue a man from the ship before it explodes. This turns out to be Achilles who talks incoherently. Gradually, they piece together his story – that he comes from the year 2140 and is a member of a rebel group known as The Legion who are batting against the machine-enhanced Homo Superior that have overrun the Earth and driven the rest of humanity offworld. Achilles is pursued by Erebus-7, one of the Homo Superior, who follows a tracking chip inside Achilles’ body. As the Erebus-7 pursues, in the process obliterating York and London, the others try to find how to prevent this future coming about.
Neil Johnson is a British director I am surprised I have not come across before. He has been churning out low-budget science-fiction and horror films since the 1990s, including the likes of The Demons in My Head (1998), To Become One (2002), Battlespace (2006), Nephilim (2007), Humanity’s End (2008), Bipolar Armageddon (2009), Alien Armageddon (2011), Alien Dawn (2012), Dawn of Destruction (2014), Starship Rising (2014), Starship Apocalypse (2014) and Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter (2017).
Doomsday – not to be confused with Neil Marshall’s fine post-apocalyptic film Doomsday (2008) – is a low-budget time travel film. Essentially, once one gets past the handful of scenes with actors spouting doubletalk and small ships shooting at one another, it becomes a variant on The Terminator (1984) – man from the future travelled back in time to the present-day on a mission to prevent said future from occurring while being pursued by an unstoppable killer machine intent on stopping him.
Despite the numerous Terminator copies throughout the 1990s, which reduced the basics of this sort of film to cliched over-familiarity, Neil Johnson injects a number of original touches. The film is evidently made on a low-budget but one of its major virtues are some very good effects sequences, which Johnson himself provides. Johnson shoots the film all over different parts of England and turns out a tight action piece.
The best part is the writing of the central character of Achilles. Alain Terzoli’s performance is as a man who is a fish out of water in this day and age. Be it his babble of phrases in an evolved language, the rather funny scenes where he attempts to voice-activate a tv set and expects to be able to react with the newsreader, or his display of sexual mores from the future, it is one of the few films that gets the idea that culture over a century from now would be unrecognisably different from what people from today is used to. The film also arrives at a time paradox ending that comes with a reasonable level of cleverness in the writing.