THE COLONY (OCTOBER 20TH)
YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...
Unless you're Donald Trump (or another sort of idiot) then you are probably aware that our climate is changing and the effects could be huge – unless we do something about it that is. Even then there are no guarantees the there won't be a significantly negative impact on the planet. Now if the idea of a hotter planet doesn't sound appealing to you, then I've found the perfect antidote – Jeff Renroe's sci-fi horror The Colony. I am not a big fan of the cold and I am not a fan of the heat either really. I'm a fair skinned Englishman who prefers that sweet spot of somewhere between 17 and 23 degrees Celsius, otherwise I'm putting on extra layers or getting the desktop fan out. Just watching 'The Colony' made me feel like my bones were frozen.
It's the year 2045 and the earth is basically just one giant polar ice cap. You see, to combat global warming and climate change, humans built huge weather machines in an effort to regulate things a bit. However, one day is started to snow pretty hard and well, it didn't stop. The weather machines broke down and the earth now resembles 'North of the Wall' (Game of Thrones reference). Most of the human race has since perished but some have managed to reside in underground bunkers. The cold is a continues problem for these subterranean colonies, as is trying to control disease and grow their own food. Neither of which are easy when there is little medicine and not much in the way of sunshine or heat. One such group trying to stay alive is Colony 7, led by a man named Briggs (Laurence Fishburne). One day they get a distress call from a neighbouring colony and Briggs and a couple of other brave souls decide to put big thick coats on and check it out.
A quick look at Rotten Tomatoes will tell you that The Colony is not a well-liked film, by critics or general audiences. Doesn't offer anything original. Underdeveloped characters. A weak ending. All these criticisms are true. However, it is actually quite an enjoyable and well made film and that is the most frustrating thing of all in a way. It doesn't offer anything particularly new in terms of ideas but then again that can be said for a lot of films and it does still present an interesting vision of the future. Director Jeff Renfroe gives us some nice visuals too with sweeping icy vistas and some impressive visual effects.
The cast here is another reason why people perhaps expected more from the movie. Funnily enough, the central performers are all decent enough with Fishburne perfectly at home in his role as the cool, collected leader of the group and the late Bill Paxton putting in a nasty turn as the ruthless survivalist type. Kevin Zegers is actually the main guy amongst all the action and although he does ok, he is probably the least fleshedout of all three. We get hints about his past but we don't really get to know what really drives this character throughout the story – apart from just trying to stay alive that is. The dialogue is also a bit stunted too. This is one such exchange:
Mason: Briggs is gone. I'm running things now.
Sam: When everyone's dead, huh? And you're king of the fucking castle, then what?
Mason: I'll still be running things.
The film moves slowly through it's first act but that quickly changes when the travelling expedition arrives at their neighbour's underground bunker. The tension is well built and effective and it isn't too long before all hell breaks loose. The film is actually pretty brutal in flashes and we are treated to some decent fight/escape sequences. It's just a shame that it's so formulaic in its structure and plot. You know who is going to survive and who isn't from about ten minutes into this and it's this sheer predictability and level of 'safeness' that undermines all the good things that The Colony has to offer.
Despite an impressive final duel between Kevin Zegers and the feral human that looks like a Thenn, the conclusion is too open ended and abrupt to leave you feeling satisfied. It may leave you wanting more as there are a number of story threads and characters that feel like they could go somewhere interesting but unfortunately, they don't. The Colony would have been received more warmly by audiences if they knew this was the first part of a trilogy or something, but instead it's just another missed opportunity.