“You’re going to need every bullet.”
The Colony was this little-seen horror film that came out in early 2013. From the trailers shown it looked like it was going to be a decent looking post-apocalyptic, scifi-horror that looked to evoke the sort of icy desolation and paranoia that Carpenter’s The Thing did so perfectly. Under Canadian-filmmaker Jeff Renfroe’s command the film’s high, lofty horror goals didn’t exactly come to fruition.
The film itself wasn’t awful by any stretch of the imagination, but it does suffer a lot from having it look like it was one of those mid-2000 SyFy film productions. At times some of the sequences even looked like it was copied off from one of those the SyFy “New Ice Age” disaster flicks starring Dean Cain. Yet, there’s some genuine tense moments in The Colony that should make this film a look-see if there’s nothing else to see.
Yes, the film is about the planet going through a sort of artificially-created Ice Age due to weather tampering. It’s a story that could’ve been lifted from early Twilight Zone episodes. Humanity barely survives inside spread out colonies using former factories and government bunkers. These colonies don’t just have the danger or dwindling supplies, simple diseases and the cold weather to deal with, but as we soon find out there’s now a new danger that’s much closer to home.
The Colony’s ad campaign and trailers have focused on it’s two American stars in Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton to sell the film. Both actors do some workman-like performances which helps anchor the ensemble cast’s performance. It’s the cast’s performances that elevates The Colony above it’s SyFy counterparts and one of it’s few saving graces. The other being the filmmakers’ success in creating a sense of freezing isolation through the use of arctic-like location shoots and some very well-done CGI icy landscapes.
The horror part of the film comes from the so-called “other” survivors who have adjusted to the scarcity of food by turning on the only abundant source of nourishment left in a world where there are no more growing things. Yes, The Colony tries to revive that old horror staple of the late 70’s and early 80’s which we know of as the cannibal-subgenre.
Cannibal films never truly went away but they remained mostly in the very outer fringes of the horror scene. They tended to be quite awful affairs that went for extreme shocks to bring in the horror crowd, but that only works when there’s a semblance of a narrative to explain things. With The Colony the film does a good enough job to try and explain why some have turned to a diet of the so-called other “white meat”. To add a new wrinkle to these feral antagonists the filmmakers they decided to update them for the modern audiences by giving them free-running skills that makes them seem more than human once they enter the screen. If the film has any sort of lesson to impart it could be that eating “long pig” might just give one parkour-like abilities.
The Colony definitely tried to be one of those scifi-horror that wanted to elevate itself to something beyond it’s grindhouse and exploitation roots, but it’s trying to be somethng it wasn’t meant to be that became it’s biggest flaw. The set-up of an Ice Age created by man is a time-tested story and the reintroduction of the cannibal thread to the film’s storyline was ripe for a grandg uignol-like production that could’ve been done using practical effects. But the filmmakers tried to mimic the CGI-smorgasbord of the Roland Emmerich-style, but they just barely distinguished themselves from what amounted to be an enhanced SyFy-production.
It’s a film that has enough entertaining moments, but overall it was a nice try that that just failed short of it’s goals.