Doomwatch (1972)

Article 3513 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-3-2011
Posting Date: 3-28-2011
Directed by Peter Sasdy
Featuring Ian Bannen, Judy Geeson, John Paul
Country: UK
What it is: Ecological disaster thriller

A scientist from an environmental research agency known as “Doomwatch” visits a small island to research the effects of an oil spill. The villagers on the island are hostile and suspicious, and it soon becomes apparent that they have something to hide… and that something far worse than an oil spill has happened in the area.

My first reaction on hearing about the group known as Doomwatch here was that it would make a fine concept for a TV series; I then learned that it in fact this movie was based on a TV series of the same name. I went into this one expecting a horror movie, and the first half of the movie certainly gives the sense that that is what it’s going to turn out to be. The movie then suddenly shifts gears and becomes a mystery; the action leaves the island and becomes concerned with finding the causes of the illness suffered by the people, and the movie becomes something of a science fiction drama. For once, the behavior of the villagers is much more than just a way to build suspense; the final scenes of the movie are concerned with the scientist trying to break past the hostility in an effort to urge the villagers to seek the help he is offering. I like this movie enough to wish it was better than it was, the weak direction and uneven acting blunt some of its impact. Still, I think it worked well enough to get by; the ending in particular is very sad. Whatever its flaws, I don’t think I’ll easily forget this movie.

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