I first heard of The Colony via a trailer presented when it was available on pay-per-view. The trailer hit a few buttons within me. Post-apocalypse? Check. Snowy setting? Check. Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton sharing screen time!? Check and check!
My curiosity was piqued.
But not without some hesitancy. After all, what we had here was a direct to video feature with almost no early (good) word. Further, a quick intenet investigation revealed mostly negative comments about the feature. Nonetheless, those elements listed above, plus this IMHO effective trailer, had me interested…
So…is The Colony worth your time?
Sadly, the answer is resounding no.
Before getting into the negative, let me offer the few positives: For a low budget film, this one features some pretty good effects. Not great, not always, but pretty good. The film also presents a decent attempt at creating a colony “world”. Plus, you have the already mentioned Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton.
That, sadly, pretty much ends the positives.
The film’s premise is this: Because of global warming, society created machines to “cool” the world down. But the machines either malfunctioned or worked too well and Earth entered a new ice age. Survivors huddled together in colonies, buildings that were mostly underground, and eeked out a bleak daily existence. When the film opens, we find that a powerful “flu” is going around in the colony, and that people who have it and do not show signs of improvement are condemned to death rather than risk spreading it.
Into this already bleak existence our colony receives an SOS from another nearby colony. The leader of our colony (Mr. Fishburne), gathers a pair of volunteers which includes Sam (Kevin Zegers, displaying very little charisma for the film’s protagonist), and they head off to the other colony to investigate.
What they find there is a bloody mess (I won’t give away more than that) and the troubles wind up following them back to their colony.
I have no big issues with either the plot or concept of the film. Indeed, quite the contrary, I think there are ideas here that could have made for a potentially good little “B” film. However, the movie disappoints as it moves along, alternately giving us too much plot and focusing too much on silly things.
For instance, the whole “flu” thing at the beginning of the film winds up being little more than a plot device intended to show us that Bill Paxton’s character is just a few steps away from being out of control. It is very annoying that as a viewer Paxton’s character’s story arc is so clearly obvious to you while NO ONE around him, including the colony’s leader, realize this will be a problem. Indeed, while Mr. Fisburne’s character notes that “changes will be made” regarding Paxton’s character, he nonetheless leaves the colony without taking him along, which of course allows the deranged character to gain control over things while the boss is away.
The danger presented in the other colony, too, had me a little confused. Were the antagonists outsiders? Were they the colonists gone bad? A little bit of explanation might have helped. Also, by the time we reach the movie’s climax, it winds up being little more than your typical siege event, with the bad guys rushing the good guys and…you can pretty much figure the rest.
Another element I found very annoying was the fact that the movie makers appear to be people who have no idea what it is like to be out in wintry/snowy cold. To begin, why would you trek snowy territory without snow shoes or skis? Understand, when the three head out to the other colony, they pass right through the heart of a city. Surely at some point they could have found some snow shoes or skis there, right? And assuming the colony is located in an area that used to be tropical (like Florida, though it is never mentioned where the colony originally was) and stores didn’t carry such items, then surely they could have made some?
On a crumbling bridge they find a van and three people, a father, a mother, and their child dead. They have committed suicide. Given the amount of snow around them, how exactly did they drive that van around? Clearly the van and the victims are something new as later on, when our protagonists reach a crashed helicopter and camp out inside it, they mention already knowing about this way point. Again, where did this van come from and how did it manage to drive along the snow?!
Further, when the characters are outside, they have no visible breath. At all. Yet we see them out there and they talk to each other and mention how cold it is and…no breath. Not once. When they reach the other colony and find a way into it, Laurence Fishburne’s character grabs a metal ladder with his bare hands before climbing down and into the structure. Why he didn’t also stick his tongue on the ladder to complete the effect I’ll never know.
And finally, every outside shot features constant snowing. Yet somehow our protagonist’s footprints manage to stick around long enough to allow the bad guys a chance to track them.
After the humdrum climax, our heroes are left in such a precarious situation that I don’t see how in the hell they’ll survive it. Again, without giving too much away, they find that there might be a place where they can escape to, yet it is never revealed how far away this place is (we have to assume it is quite far as they know their immediate surroundings, certainly as far as to the other colony) and the survivors have no food on them for the trip and are dressed in what they wore within the colony itself…dress I have to assume is lighter than what they need on the outside!
In sum, a pass. Too bad. If a little more thought have been put into this film, I think it would have been far better than what it wound up being.