In a near-future post-apocalyptic world overrun by warring gang factions, director and writer Mike P Nelson’s The Domestics follows husband and wife Mark (Tyler Hoechlin) and Nina (Kate Bosworth) as they travel 200 miles across the American countryside to seek safety and reunite with Nina’s parents. A whistle-stop tour of wicked creativity with an added serving of dark humour, this Warriors meets Escape From New York thriller may not be cinematically ground-breaking or provide insightful examinations of the human condition, but, with the right suspension of disbelief, it makes for one hugely entertaining flick.
Over the last decade or so, the post-apocalyptic setting has been a popular one. Whereas films like 28 Days Later offered meditations on human nature and Mad Max: Fury Road relished in pure insanity, The Domestics finds itself somewhere in the middle of this spectrum unable to commit to either, or without getting either just quite right. This is largely down to the break-neck pace of the plot that throws our leads into new situations right after escaping another. There’s just no time to get to know anything about this world or how and why these factions came to be. However, amongst all the madness there are some brief quiet moments of reflection that are elegant in their simplicity.
The highlight of this picture is undoubtedly the darkly imaginative concepts of the gangs; each encountered character is stranger and more entertaining than the last. The drawback here is that with so many factions being referenced in the film with so few interactions with each (one in particular only ever seems to be mentioned by name), it only leaves us hungry for more. One particularly sinister Russian Roulette sequence perfectly captures the movie’s devilishly twisted charms.
The main qualms start to come into frame when one begins to question the foundational setup of the narrative: how could society reach this state of insanity within such a short time? Why did the rest of the world not intervene? And what is the reasoning behind each gang’s philosophy? There are no answers to these questions, but to ask them is missing the point.
The Domestics doesn’t have any answers to give, nor does it intend to ask anything. Instead, we have a film concerned only with taking us on tour of a vision of a broken world, and it’s a hugely entertaining one at that.
The Domestics is released in select cinemas on 10th August 2018.
Watch the trailer for The Domestics here: