Saturday, 23 April 2016


“We leave for the Isle of Wight first thing in the morning.” Yay! A new BBC adaptation of THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (2009) seems markedly redundant after Steve Sekely’s deeply flawed but fondly recalled 1962 feature, and Douglas Livingstone’s memorable update for a 1981 TV series astutely directed by Ken Hannam. But John Wyndham’s novel is one of the cornerstones of popular British SF in ‘cosy catastrophe’ mode, so all fans of these near–mythical carnivorous plants with predatory intelligence against disabled humanity ought to welcome a fresh version (penned by Patrick Harbinson - Millennium, Dark Angel), highlighting 21st century concerns.

Dougray Scott (Perfect Creature) inherits the grim mantle of triffid farmer Bill Mason, bringing assertive melancholy to a benchmark scientist-turned-hero role. Joely Richardson (Event Horizon) is radio host Jo Playton – the heartening “voice of Britain” in wholly dystopian times. Eddie Izzard essays unstoppable opportunist dictator Torrence with the (do ya wanna be in my gang?) manners of a Bond villain. Vanessa Redgrave is great as traitor nun Durrant, while stalwart Brian Cox makes something worthwhile out of not much to go on as estranged–father stereotype Dennis, prepped for saving mankind from global apocalypse even if he cannot save himself.

Triffid mobility extends to climbing trees and they have slithering clutching vines that are strong enough to drag away even fiercely–reluctant victims. TV production values (black pall hanging over ruined London lacks impact) and family–audience–friendly plotting weaken possibilities for sci-fi drama. There’s some good acting but hardly any chemistry between the leads. It’s quite interesting to compare this restrained cautionary tale with the darkly compelling lack of subtly in Blindness (2008), where social breakdown is portrayed with far more nastiness, and an unsettling/ despairing abandonment of even the vaguest morality is much worse than anything that ratings–conscious telly bosses would ever dare foist upon home–screen material.

Over-familiarity is a big problem with this, but it’s still an intriguing disaster scenario for eminently watchable genre TV. Now, if only they’d make a transatlantic sequel out of SimonClark’s millennial novel Night Of The Triffids!

This review was published in BLACK STATIC #15 (February 2010). I also reviewed all this lot for the same issue: 

Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat (1/10)
Street Trash (7/10)
Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead (3/10)
Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath Of The Dragon God (4/10)
House [aka: Hausu] (7/10)
Train (4/10)
Halloween II (1/10)
The Haunted World Of El Superbeasto (1/10)
Surrogates (8/10)
Tony (3/10)
Dante's Inferno (2/10)
In The Electric Mist (6/10)
Long Weekend (6/10)
Pandorum (4/10)
Cabin Fever (6/10)
Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (4/10)
Wolfhound (7/10)
Triangle (7/10)

        Terror Triage: round-up
Sorority Row (2/10)
Growth (3/10)
Room 36 (5/10)
Whiteout (4/10)
Stan Helsing (1/10)
Malice In Wonderland (5/10)
Borderland (1/10)
Jennifer's Body (2/10)
Open Graves (2/10)
Paranormal Activity (1/10)

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