The Colony (2013)

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the-colonyI grew up a major league fan of post-apocalyptic movies. As a boy, I remember watching Charlton Heston in THE OMEGA MAN, and I would spend my summer mornings waking up at dawn and bicycling around the empty streets of Bayside, Queens, pretending I was Robert Neville hunting mutants. It appealed to me, the notion of having the world to myself. You know, except for mutants. Later on, I’d get to watch DAWN OF THE DEAD, and then MAD MAX 2/THE ROAD WARRIOR, and my collection of favourite post-apoc movies grew. I almost wrote a non-fiction book on the history of them, starting with the silent era and leading up to the many Italian rip-offs of MAD MAX and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. I collected a shitload of materials, notes and pictures, but never got around to it.

THE COLONY, a 2013 Canadian film written and directed by Jeff Renfroe (BEING HUMAN), is not related to the TV reality show of the same name, is in many ways a throwback to the post-apocalyptic movies I grew up with, especially the ones made in the Seventies, when our fear of an atomic holocaust was briefly eclipsed by the knowledge that we were fucking up our environment with pollution and genetically-modified foods (thank God we don’t do that sort of thing nowadays. Ahem…).

"Game Over, man!" "Shut up."

“Game Over, man!”
“Shut up.”

THE COLONY is set in 2045, decades after humanity, in a bid to reverse global warming, tried using some sort of weather modification grid, one which backfired and threw the entire Earth into an eternal global freeze. Pockets of the human race have survived underground in colonies, barely surviving on what they can grow or forage from the ruins of the nearby cities. Colony Seven is led by the paternal Briggs (Laurence Fishburne, THE MATRIX), though his command is all but challenged on a constant basis by his security chief Mason (Bill Paxton, ALIENS). Medicines are scarce and people’s immune systems are weak, so anyone who contracts even the slightest cold must go into quarantine, though Mason prefers the “shoot them in the head now” approach favoured by psychopaths and Tea Party espousers.

Bet her breath is minty fresh too...

Bet her breath is minty fresh too…

Sam (Kevin Zegers, who played one of the security guards in the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake) prefers Briggs’ more merciful policies, as does Sam’s girlfriend Kai (Charlotte Sullivan, ROOKIE BLUE), who somehow still looks amazingly gorgeous despite being stuck underground for decades. So when a nearby colony sends out an SOS, Briggs brings along Sam, leaving Kai in charge, with assurances that when he gets back, he’ll remove Mason from his current position.

When I watched this happen, my eyes rolled so far in the back of my head that I actually saw my temporal lobes (and they were fucking gorgeous, by the way). Mason has all but declared to all and sundry that he was ready to instigate a coup, and the one guy who could quell this before it happens decides to leave for several days before doing something about it? And leaves the place in the hands of someone who obviously hoards mascara and waxing strips, too?

Anyway, Briggs’ party makes their way across the barren wastelands to Colony Five, where they find one survivor, who has survived long enough to pass on some heavy exposition: 1) there’s a place south where people have found a way to make the weather temperate again in their area, but they need seeds, seeds that Colony Seven can conveniently provide.

Oh, and 2) A cannibal gang has invaded, killed and eaten everyone else here in Colony Five. And they’re still here.

Personally, I would have led with 2), but what do I know?

Dru Viergever as the Head Cannibal. And what a head!

Dru Viergever as the Head Cannibal. And what a head!

Briggs and his party stumble on the cannibals, led by one mean-looking mother (Dru Viergever, SAW 3D, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD), and the Colony Seven party barely escapes, but with the Cannibals in pursuit…

Yumm...

Yumm…

There is very little, if actually nothing about THE COLONY that is original. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, when it’s done right, and to its credit I kept watching throughout, so it couldn’t have been that bad. Most of the interiors were shot at this decommissioned NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) base in North Bay, Ontario, and it does feel genuinely authentic. Fishburne lends the role the gravitas and maturity it needs, though Paxton is pretty much wasted in his one-note role.

Dru Viergever, without having one line of dialogue, does volumes with expressions of feral menace, and he does look frightening (though it gets confusing as to whether or not these are just cannibals, or infected with something or even zombies, though they’re smart enough to stay dressed for the weather, and seem fairly organised despite seemingly not speaking to each other throughout). The exteriors are all CGI, but fare better than the standards you usually get on the SyFy channel. And there are moments of blood and gore that you don’t normally expect on SyFy, though these moments are sporadic.

Eat it!

Eat it!

But again, as you watch it, you feel like it’s cobbled together with parts from other movies, like some device the survivors have assembled from other machines; even the music at times is reminiscent of THE THING or 28 DAYS LATER. Even if you’re not as familiar with films of the genre as the rest of us geeks, you’ll get that recycled feeling.

THE COLONY is on DVD in the UK and is due for release soon in the US. The trailer is below.

Deggsy’s Summary:
Director: Jeff Renfroe (also writer)
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 4 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Derek “Deggsy” O’Brien. The D is silent. It’ll never tell abotu what happened on that night, long ago…

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26 Responses to “The Colony (2013)”
  1. gynocrat says:

    I thought this was a solid watch – you wonder where the tribe came from, until Fishburne’s character starts talking about how society broke down in the stadium he was in, when the troubles began. These humans starting eating others, and obviously had kids…these kids grew up into something feral, tribe-oriented, and downright menacing.

    Did you notice that there was a female cannibal…but she never came out on the hunt with the others. 0_0 That means she’s still back at Colony 5 with Mr. Death (the actor that locked himself in the storeroom, he played Death on Supernatural!)

    • This ion sounds pretty good!! I need to check it out (Deggsy wrote the review).

    • deggsy says:

      Hi, Gynocrat, thanks for reading the review! I thought it was a solid film, too, nothing slapdash or amateurish about it. But I suppose it was very old fashioned, too, in that sense. I also suppose I didn’t like the lack of foreshadowing about the cannibals; it was really something they should have encountered long before. I do like that it wasn’t just males, either, that gives it a more HILLS HAVE EYES sense of an actual nomadic tribe.

      • gynocrat says:

        I wonder if the reason they didn’t encounter it (cannibal gangs) prior, is because it developed in populated areas first.

        The type of cannibal that develops in societal-breakdown situations always faascinates me. I don’t know if you ever read World War Z, but you you remember the woman who, as a girl, fled with her parents to Sub-Arctic Canada? At the end of the first winter she says ‘there was plenty of food then’ and she says it while they stare at a pile of human bones. I guess there’s two extremes – the rational Soylent Greene style of cannibalism (where the kids eat it and they never know where the meat comes from), and the all out Pandorum style of cannibalism (where the kiddos watch parents hunt humans, and grow up to be animals.)

      • That was my favorite story in WWZ, Gynocrat!! Being in those sub-zero conditions made it seem very possible that people would have choice but to turn to cannibalism. It really is black & white in that situation: eat human meat or starve.

        I also liked that story because it started off on the solid idea that zombies freeze in sub-zero weather. I bet a lot of people would think to go to a very cold place to avoid the zombies but wouldn’t think of the horrible conditions that come with such weather!!

      • I also thought, Gynocrat, that the structure of the novel WORLD WAR Z would make a great TV show. The book has a very episodic feel to it but all the stories are also bound together by a common theme & character.

        I didn’t particularly care for WWZ as s novel but I’d get behind it 100% as a TV series!!

      • gynocrat says:

        Completely OT – I just watched Frankenstein’s Army. I adored it.

      • Is it good, Gynocrat??

      • gynocrat says:

        Let’s just say I felt like a I was watching someone play the best Wolfenstein game ever. I think it would’ve been better without the ‘found footage’ aspect; but everything else was scholcky-gore goodness.

      • I’m definitely gonna check this one out tonight!! Thanks or the recommendation. I love the old Comodore 64 CASTLE WOLFENSTEIN!! Lol

      • gynocrat says:

        The fun starts right after they find Karel Roden. By that point you’re so irritated by the Russian squad, you want them to die. 0_0

      • I’m sold on this one based on Deggsy & Gynocrat’s discussion. I’m gonna look for it this weekend.

  2. Xenolicker says:

    Thanks. I like Bill Paxton in “Aliens”.

  3. Xenolicker says:

    Has he really a role in “Deuce Bigalow”!? Well, i told you it was a fine movie! And whats a “Lassie role”? Hhmmm… it has to mean that he was the big star in it, right? I prefer Sara Paxton though. Is she related to Bill?

  4. Xenolicker says:

    Sure there was a second “Bigalow”! How could there not be a second “Bigalow”!? Duh!!! :-|

  5. Xenolicker says:

    It’s “DEUCE BIGALOW” not “DEUCE BIGELOW”! Jeez guys, can’t you even spell the names of such classic movies right!? :-| And is Derek posting under the name “anything horror” again? It’s so confusing. Frankenstein’s Army, eh gynocrat, that’s not the 3D one, is it?

  6. Xenolicker says:

    Really! There’s no need for such language! You even infected Derek, you wouldn’t recognize him anymore as the true english gentleman he once was! :-|

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  • Some of my favorite horror movies:
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978)

  • Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987)

  • Martyrs (2008)

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