Movies · Reviews

Doomsdays Posits the World Well Before the World Ends

By  · Published on June 7th, 2015

Candy Factory Films

It’s the end of the world as we know it – or at least it will be at some unspecified time in the possibly near future. The world runs on oil, and once it runs out that same world will descend into chaotic scavenging – and since the future waits for no man Dirty Fred (Justin Rice) and Bruho (Leo Fitzpatrick) are getting a jump on the rest of society by acting like that end has already hit. They roam the Catskills braking into empty vacation homes, consuming leftover food and alcohol, destroying property with abandon, and squatting until the owners return to claim what’s theirs.

Wash, rinse, repeat. Except minus the wash and rinse as Fred and Bruho know cleanliness probably won’t be a valued commodity after the apocalypse. They move from house to house – the former opining poetically on the state of his sexual needs while the latter rages against any four-wheeled machines they happen to come across – and while it’s clear that Fred is far less convinced or concerned with the nightmare scenario that is mankind’s future they both continue to act the part. Their pattern shifts when a burly teenager named Jaidon (Brian Charles Johnson) joins their cause initially as a way to escape his loneliness and is soon followed by Reyna (Laura Campbell), a similarly lost young woman with nothing better to do. But what worked so perfectly and chaotically for the two men can’t quite sustain the weight and ideas of all four.

Writer/director Eddie Mullins’ feature debut appears early on to be a late variation on the mumblecore scene, but the seemingly random conversations and actions of the two leads actually work well to shape and grow both their characters and the film’s theme.

I hesitate to say “plot” as there’s very little of one here – instead we simply follow along as Fred and Bruho destroy property, verbally abuse each other and move on to their next temporary home. As they take on the two stragglers the dynamic shifts – Jaidon becomes a student, Reyna becomes a lover – but the episodic nature remains. That structure and the pacing that it inhabits are occasionally troublesome as some scenes drag on noticeably, especially in a film that just barely runs ninety minutes.

The film’s meandering nature contains more than just random interactions and acerbic dialogue though. Mullins fills his characters mouths with some genuinely funny observations and insults and pairs them with an underlying sense of melancholy. Fred may not actually care about anything – a problem in itself – but Bruho legitimately believes the end is near. His rage against cars and their tires is aggressively realized, but it remains focused in its origin. Less clear at first is his anger with people in general and out of control consumers in particular.

That depth makes Bruho the film’s most (only?) dramatically engaging character, and Fitzpatrick does strong work transforming him from the anarchic asshole we meet early on into someone far more textured. Rice has the far less demanding role as he’s required only to behave like a boorish prick interested only in himself. He still gets many of the film’s best lines though and delivers them with a snarky yet transparent air of superiority. Johnson and Campbell are both fine and bring their own energy into the mix.

For a simple film that does little more than follow some folks around for a month Doomsdays has an appealing look to it. Shots are smartly framed, and the forest’s near-constant presence of greenery creates a living backdrop hearkening to time and world before man’s adoption of oil as his lifeblood. Cinematographer Cal Robertson also makes each home feel unique and something more than a simple collection of rooms.

Doomsdays is a simple film, but while it occasionally moves too slow and aimlessly it’s difficult not to get pulled into Fred and Bruho’s intentionally directionless journey. Don’t live as if tomorrow has already happened, live as if today has yet to start.

The Upside: Fine balance of humor and melancholy; Rice and Fitzpatrick manage to deliver likable assholes

The Downside: Pacing issues; only one character with any real degree of depth

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.