*. Orion Pictures. There’s a logo that made me do a double take. I thought this was a new movie.
*. Orion was basically shut down in the late ’90s (it was bought by MGM in 1997) but, and this I didn’t know, it was relaunched in 2018. Or at least Orion Classics was relaunched as a distribution platform for movies like this.
*. I hadn’t heard of Orion being back, and I hadn’t heard of The Domestics either. As a result I wasn’t expecting much, which led to my enjoying it probably more than I should have.
*. Despite the title, which suggests some sort of suburban housecleaning service, what we have here is a post-apocalyptic take on The Warriors. A young husband and wife (Kate Bosworth and Tyler Hoechlin) are on a road trip through Wisconsin after a chemical attack, apparently directed by the U.S. government, has killed off a lot of the population. Violent gangs now drive around killing people. A radio DJ provides a chorus to the action.
*. That’s the premise, stated almost as briefly as it is in the movie. We never figure out why the government decided to instigate the end of the world as we know it, or why Bosworth’s character thinks a drive to Milwaukee is a good idea given the present state of uncivilization, but here we are and there they go.
*. None of that is important anyway. The only thing that’s going on here is that the couple go from place to place, trying to escape from different novelty gangs. There are the Sheets, the Nailers, the Gamblers, the Plowboys, and a bunch of solo bad guys who aren’t branded but more or less do their own thing. There’s a campy sadistic gay fellow, for example. And of course the perfectly normal-seeming family who turn out to be cannibals. No spoiler alert for that one. You should have seen it coming if you’ve seen any of these movies or read any books in the same genre. Cannibals are not only standard fare but at this point almost obligatory. We don’t raise an eyebrow at them in The Road or The Book of Eli. Indeed, when the father and daughter in the high-rise in 28 Days Later turned out not to be cannibals I was shocked.
*. So it’s all pretty standard stuff, only made interesting by the originality of the various gimmicks the gangs identify with. The Plowboys, for example, drive snow plows. The Gamblers make wagers on the deaths of their victims and also wear giant animal heads.
*. All of this would be pretty ho-hum, but it’s a good-looking movie and the action scenes are decent. This helps overcome a pair of boring leads and a predictable bunch of survival scenarios. Maybe it was the Orion logo at the beginning, but I couldn’t help getting a retro feel from the proceedings. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s not a sign of progress either.