September 20, 2013
Lawrence Fishburne as Briggs
Bill Paxton as Mason
Kevin Zegars as Sam
Briggs leads a small colony of humans that subsist in a seed vault during a new ice age that has transformed North America into a snow-covered wasteland. Flu and the common cold have wiped out most of the original 400 who founded the colony. Now with food running short, Briggs’s deputy – Mason – presses for more extreme measures that include half-rations and pre-emptive killings of those who become ill. In the midst of this simmering crisis they lose radio contact with another colony of survivors. Despite the risk of disease, Briggs and two others brave the snow and cold on a two-day trek to investigate what happened to the other colony. When they arrive, they find the colony empty of its former residents, but others remain … others that seek a fresh source of meat.
The Colony (2013) is a sci-fi cannibal movie similar in atmosphere and content to 30 Days of Night (2007). Instead of vampires, feral humans swarm like a pack of ravenous dogs killing … then eating. Although, not more than a couple decades removed from more civilized times, these ‘ferals’ seem to have lost all language ability, or maybe just the desire to verbally communicate. Their leader signals his followers to swarm through a piercing scream/roar. They attack with axes and bludgeoning weapons, similar to Vikings, and feast on the flesh afterwards. Many have shaved their teeth to points, which in combination with the pale skin further invites comparison to the undead. Although the situation of the colonists bears similarity to so many we’re-under-siege zombie movies, ultimately this is a movie about human-vampires who wield axes.
This dismal vision of man’s future is referenced by one of the protagonist’s as the ultimate result of man-made global warming. Yet, The Colony does not suffer from a we-didn’t-listen pall of shame that covers such movies as The Day After Tomorrow (2005). While the situation itself may seem preachy to some, The Colony exists within its own world and ends with a flicker of hope, making it relatively easy to get past any political subtext.
Instead, the principle flaws in The Colony lie in the carbon-copy dialogue and predictable story, which includes the noble self-sacrifice made by one of the protagonists and the bubbling over internecine conflict that leads the colonists to turn on themselves in a manner similar to Day of the Dead (1985). Additionally, plot holes are just numerous enough to ensure audiences will probably not suspend disbelief. For example, the feral humans follow the footprints of Briggs and his team back to their colony, yet they are travelling in the midst of near blizzard conditions that would easily cover-up their prints, especially given how far back the ferals are following. It is also never explained how the ferals made it past a seemingly impassable point, especially since they seem to have lost all higher functions of human ingenuity. Yet the biggest hole – on which the existence of the story hinges – is why they have ‘degraded’ so rapidly in a relatively short period.
Despite eerie similarities to other horror movies and suffering from inadequate writing, The Colonymakes for a relatively entertaining movie that is just original enough to make it worth a watch. In the end, the action is formulaic, but the solid acting (despite stilted dialogue) and foreign environment – with beautiful shots of the ice world – will keep most watching and appeal to a wide swath of movie watchers, including fans of action, horror and sci-fi. The plot holes may drag it down, but the innovative concept props it back up to just a tweak above average. A scene of graphic cannibal violence is particularly memorable, but it would have been nice to see a little more of it.
Bottom Line: Not for those who can’t get past somewhat obvious plot holes, but most horror fans will appreciate the introduction of a new terror delivery system, even if it is just the superficial veneer covering up an otherwise formulaic zombie/vampire plotline.