Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Colony

Kevin and Larry's excellent dynamite adventure
The Colony is a post-apocalyptic horror thriller, directed by Jeff Renfroe, which came out last year and is now on Netflix. It features two stalwarts of the survival horror genre, namely Bill Paxton (Aliens) and Lawrence Fishburne (Event Horizon). Fishburne seems to get signed for these sorts of projects on a regular basis, and to always play the same type of character, the inspirational but ultimately doomed leader.

The Colony posits a future in which efforts to tackle global warming back-fired and created a nuclear winter. Small groups of survivors now live underground, sheltering against the excesses of extreme arctic weather conditions. The whole world now looks like the South Pole or Hoth. To top this off, a fatal strain of flu has also decimated the global population, and now survivors are focused on eliminating any members of their communities that happen to manifest symptons (a real morale booster if you are watching this while down with flu!)

The story deals with a small community living under what looks like some form of power station. The main character in the film is a youth called Sam, played by Kevin Zegers, who is witness to the struggle for power within the community between its leader, former soldier Fishburne, and his homicidal right hand man, Paxton.

We've got the isolation, the small numbers of humans, the explosive personal issues, so now where is the external threat, I hear you ask? Well, guess what? A distress call is received from another group of survivors nearby and Fishburne and Zegers, accompanied by a third survivor, Atticus Mitchell, decide to struggle through the blizzards to find out what has happened.

We love running around in the tunnels...

Nothing good, as it turns out. I'm going to have to drop a spoiler here, and let you know that the other colony of survivors has been taken over by a roaming band of cannibals. The reason I am is because, for me, the stand out performance of the entire film comes from Dru Viergever as the truly terrifying leader of the cannibal group. He has the size and the screen presence to project a really evil SOB, and why nobody has signed him for a villain's role in Star Wars, I don't know. He makes Darth Vader seem cute and cuddly by contrast.

Is The Colony a good film though? It is certainly not as depressing as The Road, which has to be one of the truly mordant films of all time. The Colony has the cold and isolation down pat, plus there is lots of running around underground complexes (which players of my Hot War scenario will find reminiscent) and there are cannibals (somehow more evil than zombies).

The Colony is a little bit predictable however. There is a scene with a bridge about halfway through which I saw coming a mile away. The film ends up being very formulaic, and really, there is nothing NEW here, but at the same time, when I watched it, I wasn't really looking to be challenged. It is almost like classic Japanese theatre, where the audience expects the plot to devlop within certain lines, and will be outraged if it does not.

One thing I did find odd though was the Russian signage in one of the complexes. The film was made in Canada, there are no Russian characters in the film, and it never claims to be in Russia (the characters shelter in the wreck of an American rescue helicopter at one stage, and there are no Russian characters in the movie at all). So why is there obvious Russian signage all over the place? I can only assume someone else was using the same set previously and put it there, but it is also fairly obviously in shot, so why leave it? I am struggling to understand.

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