|Bill Paxton pissed that he didn't get goggles.|
The Day After Tomorrow walks into a pub and starts a fight with 30 Days of Night, while the barmaid, Aliens, looks on with a smile. Outside, John Carpenter's The Thing cocks its leg underneath the window, while Alive runs to the hills!But don't take my word for it just yet. Please read on!
The synopsis is that the world has prematurely entered its next ice age, gradually leaving a handful of survivors living in underground colonies around the United States. They're so desperate that in the event of illness, you take a long walk in the snow or you eat a bullet. When a distress call from another colony leads a rescue party into a deadly trap, however, our heroes are forced to fight for survival with the prospect of extinction on their hands.
That's the simplified version. You can go find out the rest for yourself. From the opening scenes, this is a triumph of low-budget sci-fi horror with a penchant for punching above its weight. Do not let the DVD's menu screen fool you in the slightest; someone with a sense of humor did that, clearly.
The very first thing that caught my attention about The Colony: this is not a cheap movie. From the beginning, there are great visuals, a beautiful soundtrack, and a very effective cast of character actors who are all consistent throughout. I found myself thinking, what if John Carpenter had had this technology to work with when he made The Thing? The Colony was made on an estimated budget of $16 million, which is astounding when you consider that Blair Witch Project cost $15 million in the year 2000. What were they spending their budget on, crystal meth-frosted donuts and hookers?
|Not looking awesome, that's for sure!|
There's also a meeting that takes place in the early stages of the movie in the central room of the colony belonging to our protagonists. It's made to feel like some down-and-dirty dive bar from a classic film, but not so much by art direction than by toying with cinema conventions—the cameras' attention to detail, picking up the music of a record player, peering over shoulders, observing people hanging around like it's happy hour—all the while looking like the type of people you wouldn't hang around with for a pint and a chat. This trickery of cinematography is used throughout the movie to really make the most of what it has to hand, and it makes for enjoyable viewing.
The sense of how deep in shit the human race is begins with one of our protagonists, Mason (Paxton), going through the self-appointed job of shooting a man who has a cold, because they can't afford the germs. It's the rules. If you get sick and don't get better, you're a danger to society. Not many agree with his methods, and that's going to be a problem later. You just know it.
|Stealing Bill Paxton's snowballs; crime punishable by death!|
The distress signal changes the dynamic of the group when the colony's leader, Briggs (Fishburne), announces a rescue party to the troubled colony across the other side of their snowbound city. Sam volunteers to go, as does the young and inexperienced Graydon (Atticus Mitchell). Briggs, a former army soldier who served with Mason, doesn't want him in charge, because Mason likes to think with his gun a little too much. Of course.
|Run away! My finger wants to shoot you and I can't control it.|
After some manly camaraderie, and a healthy dose of suspense and atmosphere, we're introduced to the horror element of The Colony, which catches you off guard. Personally, I thought this was supposed to be a vampire movie, by the way it looked. One of the aforementioned Internet buttheads had called it a zombie movie. You, sir, are a complete tool!
All of a sudden, and in such a grisly manner, we're faced with an army of terrifying feral cannibals complete with body mods and filed-down teeth. Holy craptastic ice-pick swinging bloodbath, Batman! Our heroes are outnumbered and underequipped. You can take it from here, I'm not giving away when this happens or what happens afterward, but for what it's worth, The Colony delivers so much substance, quality, and bang for your buck.
|"Now, son, this is how real men light a BBQ..."|
Laurence Fishburne is fresher and more active than he's been in years. Remember Predators? He played crazy well in that movie, but he was a bit too…husky to have survived in that jungle for so long. Here, he seems revitalized and provides some uplifting moments. Kevin Zegers I haven't seen since Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake. He's not so wet behind the ears or gawky anymore, and he makes for a great, compelling lead. I hope he does well after this.
Bill Paxton hasn't just aged well, either, he's really matured as an actor, and it's so good to see him contribute his skills to the genres that made him in the 80s. Despite being a minor lead, he does really well with those scenes, the outcome of the film hinging on many of his scenes. Charlotte Sullivan seems like she'd secretly enjoy propagating the species with Zegers, but I also think she's a great young actress, aside from being pretty nice to look at.
|One of few films to point out that the end of the world has no shampoo and conditioner.|
The only other cons I really cared to notice were that the movie's cannibal menace (lots) were ferocious enough at fighting, but their leader could have had so much more screentime to scare the crap out of people. He's a bit like Highlander's The Kurgan, but quieter. Thank god, though, because he could have turned out a complete prat like Ghosts of Mars's Big Daddy Mars (ga-ga-gaga-gah)!
|"I feel pretteeee... oh so pretteeeeee..."|
Sound off, Fanboys! If you haven't seen this movie, you need to give it a try. It is out on DVD in all good stores. If you have seen it, drop us a line in the comments section below and thanks for reading, once again. Toodle-pip!