Is Neil Marshall a shameless rip-off merchant or an impudent fan boy paying homage to his favourite films? Watching the so-called Splat Pack director’s gory post-apocalyptic action movie Doomsday, which comes out on DVD today, I can’t make up my mind.
Marshall (maker of werewolf movie Dog Soldiers and potholing horror flick The Descent) certainly plunders ideas and images from a grab bag of genre movies for his film, in which Rhona Mitra’s ballsy, one-eyed major leads an elite team into a plague-ridden future Scotland in search of a cure for a deadly virus.
Marshall’s pilfering is brazen. The Warriors, Escape from New York, the Mad Max movies, Aliens, 28 Days Later… name an exploitation movie from the last four decades and the chances are that he has lifted something from it, but his movie is such an exhilarating, hell-for-leather ride that by the time you spot borrowings from Excalibur and Gladiator you’ll probably applaud him for his cheek.
At least fashion photographer turned filmmaker Sean Ellis rips off himself with his offbeat romantic comedy Cashback, which is based on his Oscar-nominated 18-minute short and incorporates all the earlier film’s footage.
Sean Biggerstaff (better known as Quidditch hot shot Oliver Wood in the first two Harry Potter films) stars as art student Ben, who finds himself suffering from chronic insomnia after breaking up with his girlfriend (Michelle Ryan, caught between East Enders and Bionic Woman). To fill his time, he takes a night job at his local Sainsbury’s supermarket where his co-workers (including Emilia Fox’s cute checkout girl Sharon) have adopted different strategies to get through their mind-numbingly dull shifts.
Ben’s approach is to fantasise that he has the ability to stop time. This means that everyone in the store except Ben is frozen, which enables him to wander the aisles, undress the store’s impossibly gorgeous female customers and sketch them. If this sounds pervy, well, it probably is, but Biggerstaff brings such a wide-eyed dreamy innocence to the character of Ben that he – and Ellis – probably just get away with it.