Colony, The (2013)
Directed by Jeff Renfroe
Set in 2045 during a new ice age, The Colony is a unique look at a post-apocalyptic world that doesn't involve zombies. The biggest killer in this film is germs. The common cold, the flu… the survivors living in the colony fear illness above all, as a simple illness could easily mean their death. However, as we quickly learn, mankind is its own worst enemy, even in the most challenging of times.
There is a sci-fi element to The Colony as well, as it was man's interference with nature, trying to control the weather with huge machinery, that backfired and caused the deep freeze. As the movie puts it, "The snow started falling… and never stopped." But just because there's a sci-fi element, don't get the idea that there is any shortage of horror in this Canadian chiller. The film is claustrophobic, tense and downright scary in parts.
There is much, much more to The Colony than a war against illness. About halfway through this film, just when you start thinking, "You know, it does drag a bit between the big scenes, and there's too much walking around," things take a complete turn and the movie intensifies dramatically. I suppose if you think about the situation these survivors are in, the plot shift shouldn't be that much of a surprise, but I was completely shocked and pleased by the way the filmmakers went.
Laurence Fishburne stars as Briggs, the leader of Colony 7. We learn that several similar colonies have emerged as survivors banded together to try to survive the cold and have some kind of life underground. We also discover that Briggs single-handedly rescued several members of the colony from dying in the elements himself. Fishburne gives his usual outstanding performance, especially in his confrontations with Mason, played by Bill Paxton. Mason is the antithesis of the calm and stoic Briggs. He's violent and short-tempered, and his inability to listen to those around him leads to incredible problems as the film goes on. In the friction between these two leaders we see the true trouble begin.
Aside from Fishburne, the always professional Bill Paxton and Kevin Zegers give great performances. You'll recognize Zegers from the Adam Green directed film Frozen. What is it with this guy and roles that have him trapped in sub-zero situations? Maybe it's time to consider new representation. But seriously, Zegers delivers a nice performance as a man who continues to carry a hope for a better life, even while trapped in the subterranean colony.
Another performance that must be mentioned is that of Julian Richings as Leyland. It's a very small supporting role, but Richings nails it and seriously escalates the intensity of the film in the short amount of time that he's onscreen. Also Dru Viergever makes one helluva bad guy, but we won't say any more than that. Don't want to spoil the surprise!
And the colony itself, the structure and surroundings, is a big part of the film. The closed quarters and dreary, foreboding feeling set a nice tone for the movie. Part of the realism is due to the fact that it was filmed in CFB (Canadian Forces Base) North Bay using facilities formerly helmed by NORAD. It doesn't get any more real than that. Additionally, there are some incredible shots of the snow-covered landscape that make the survivors seem even more isolated. It really gets the point across when you see three wind-whipped travelers walking across a huge, barren wasteland.
This is a really entertaining film. It's tense and suspenseful with a lot of action and plenty of gore to go around. It has a cool story and some impressive acting performances. The Colony asks, "What happens when people go feral? When the hunger takes over?" It's definitely worth checking this film out and getting the answers to those questions. Nicely done!
4 out of 5