The Colony DVD Review | Fanboys Anonymous

The Colony DVD Review

Posted by Dan Ashley Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Welcome, Fanboys and Fangirls, to my review on the recently released DVD The Colony. It's my pleasure to bring this movie to your attention for many reasons, two of which I can explain in a couple of words: overlooked and underrated!

Almost Human director Jeff Renfroe ice age apocalypse horror survival The Colony
Bill Paxton pissed that he didn't get goggles.
2013's The Colony is a postapocalyptic science-fiction survival horror, to be specific; a classic subgenre that we don't see often, providing you don't dare count the myriad like-minded efforts that are frankly awful. Starring Laurence Fishburne, Kevin Zegers, Bill Paxton, and Charlotte Sullivan, its potential for success was ruined by a bunch of Internet buttheads who likely hadn't even seen the film. If I had to describe The Colony in the space of one paragraph…
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?

30 Days of Night meets The Day After Tomorrow in Bill Paxton survival horror The Colony
Not looking awesome, that's for sure!
I get the feeling the crew behind this movie made a note to use clich├ęd technical conventions to trick us into seeing what could have been an average sci-fi horror in a new light. Whatever do I mean? For a start, there's a very 70s/80s utilitarian kind of art direction happening, which is why I referenced the Alien movies. That sort of dark, dank, industrial-yet-sciency vibe is a favored look when we're not seeing The Day After Tomorrow from a unique perspective.

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.

Smallville's Maxima actress Charlotte Sullivan goes blonde
Stealing Bill Paxton's snowballs; crime punishable by death!
In the labs, where they're failing to help the animals to reproduce, one of our leads, Sam (Zegers), has a conversation that ends with the amazing quote: "you know you're screwed when even the rabbits don't fuck!" It sums up a hell of a lot, but not the relationship between Sam and the sexy Kia (Sullivan) when he tells her "the rabbits aren't doing so hot" and she flashes him the briefest but most suggestive of smiles. Yeah, well, so long as we are…

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.

Aliens, True Lies and The Colony actor Bill Paxton joins Agents of SHIELD this spring 2014
Run away! My finger wants to shoot you and I can't control it.
Cue a lengthy trip through the modern-day ice age, and The Day After Tomorrow can go suck ice. Considering in some scenes you can tell there's a lot of CGI being used here (at one point they look warmer outdoors than in), in most scenes, it's so authentic that it had to be shot on somebody's ski slopes for sure.

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.

Explosive dynamite action in horror survival The Colony
"Now, son, this is how real men light a BBQ..."
What also catches you off guard, though, is that you can't tell a "redshirt" from anyone else. Our heroes and protagonists don't all wear their hearts on their sleeves, but when they do, it's because they have a plan, not because they're eight days from retirement with a wife and kids. This is about all-out survival, and the best plan is to run (and be good at fighting).

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.

Fever Pitch actress Charlotte Sullivan shocking new trendy blonde hairstyle
One of few films to point out that the end of the world has no shampoo and conditioner.
At 122 minutes, you want The Colony to have been longer, because it's a great little film, and great little films can never be long enough. However, there was also a scene in the film I felt could have done with an extra ten minutes, because when we get back to our cozy little colony to warn the others of impending cannibalistic doom, there seemed no time to soak up the atmosphere of what may be the last bastion of human civilization left. There was no reprise to the opening of the movie, and I felt that would have helped me feel more for the survivors.

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)!

Saw 3D and Survival of the Dead's Dru Viergever monstrous cannibal transformation in The Colony
"I feel pretteeee... oh so pretteeeeee..."
Not to worry, we get blood and guts and shotgun blasts to the guts and axe fights aplenty. It's grizzly and brutal and, oh my god, the poor chickens. Humanity has a lot to learn.

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!
THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY A GUEST WRITER

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