Despite some decent creature effects and some effective moments of tension, BBC One’s recent The Day of the Triffids adaptation is ultimately let down by a poor script, sloppy pacing and disjointed story-telling.
The story follows Dr John Masen (Dougray Scott), who is one of the few remaining ‘sighted’ after a massive solar storm blinds the entire world. To add to their troubles, mobile and carnivorous plants called Triffids – which had up until the blinding been harvested for their fossil-fuel eliminating oil – have escaped and are slowly but surely gravitating towards the city, with only one thing on their mind: feeding. John must struggle to solve the crisis, all the while hampered by the Triffids, the desperate blind and the power-hungry sighted.
It’s a solid concept, and the attempt to make it relevant to the current energy crisis is admirable, but this is in fact merely a symptom of its true illness: a crushingly dull script that is being taken far too seriously.
This is B-movie material at best, and should have been tackled with tongue firmly planted in cheek, then at least one could ignore or laugh at the absurdities in the plot. But this po-faced and stale adaptation is content to plod along as slowly as the Triffids themselves, pausing only to rack off close-to-malformed dialogue, either in an attempt to explain the outlandish plot twists, or to put us through character moments that can only really be described as hideously uncomfortable.
Eddie Izzard seems to be the only one who’s realised what a farce it is, with his villain Torrence being so outrageous that it’s almost impossible to take him seriously. The sad fact is that since every other character is played with such po-faced seriousness, you’ll have a hard time believing that they’re actually taking this slightly camp madman seriously.
In its credit, the 15-minute set-up is interesting, and there are moments throughout that effectively mount tension thanks to some decent special effects and clever camera work, but ultimately it’s just so cripplingly boring that you’ll cease caring before the unsatisfying conclusion can sneak up on you.
Released on DVD on Monday 1st February 2010 by Showbox Home Entertainment.