Twitter Plot Summary: Following a man-made global freeze, Colony 7 have to contend with the common cold and cannibals. Natural combo.
Five Point Summary:
1. Spot the red shirt. Far too keen.
2. It’s all getting a bit creepy.
3. Cannibal killers. Nice.
4. Bill Paxton, marking a new career as a bad guy.
5. Why won’t you die?!
The Colony could be seen as a companion piece to Snowpiercer, both films being released around the same time (in some territories at least) and set following our attempts at controlling the weather/global warming. When things go pear-shaped and the planet being engulfed in a new ice age, that’s where our story begins. Unlike the train in Snowpiercer that never stops, here the story focuses on a few survivors eking out an existence in an underground colony that is protected from the worst of the weather. True to form, everything is out to get this plucky group of survivors: the weather, each other, and the feral cannibal tribe that are inexplicably traversing the frozen tundra in search of fresh meat.
In the lead role is Kevin Zegers, a man clearly cast either because the couldn’t get Aaron Paul (of Breaking Bad and Need For Speed fame), or they wanted someone who looked a bit like him. In any case his droll narration is akin to Harrison Ford’s equally dull voiceover on the original cut of Blade Runner, and the rest of his performance is sadly lacking. By the time he reaches the third act it’s unclear whether or not he (and the script) have lapsed into parody territory, a final battle being won with one of those rocking blade pizza slicers, of all things.
Big name star power is provided by Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton, but their roles are poorly defined (much like the rest of the cast in fairness) and they don’t have that much to do in the grand scheme of things. Paxton gets a bit more time so he can stand in the doorway of “bad guy” mode, while Fishburne is in Morpheus territory, albeit a twilight years Morpheus where every decision or choice is met with a sigh.
The story is moderately competent but it never fully fleshes out the world in which events take place, and would have benefitted from having a 2 hour running time to allow more time for the characters to be defined and expand on the reasons for there being a pack of feral bad guys moving from colony to colony and wiping out those who are in their path, as this is never explored or explained. An extended running time would also have helped us care for the characters before they are inevitably taken down by the cannibal pack, as no opportunity is provided for this and no connection is made with the audience.
The Colony proves that just because you have a low budget doesn’t necessarily mean the movie will be bad, it just means the money has to be used in a slightly more effective manner, and the script could do with the odd tweak. It does trot out the usual science fiction/horror movie cliches, but it uses them moderately well and proves to be entertaining if not spectacular. And therein lies The Colony’s true problems – it’s in too much of a rush to get to the violent third act without spending enough time on the world or the characters who exist there. In this respect, having a couple of big name actors in your cast will only allow you a certain amount of leeway before people start picking holes in your production. Save this one for a late night viewing to get the most out of it.