While it suffers from tiresome cliches, “The Colony,” which releases to select theaters and VOD on Sept. 20, actually isn’t that bad of a movie. It’s not one worth recommending, but it’s also not one in which the viewer gets to the end and asks: “Why did I even bother?” It’s more of a shrug of the shoulders, followed by a “meh” feeling. But that’s also kind of a disappointment, too, since it has people like Laurence Fishburne, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Zeggers in its cast.
In a post-apocalyptic world, those who are still alive are trying to survive the snowy weather, lack of food, and possibility of capturing the common cold – which could lead to quarantine. Or, if you encounter Paxton’s crazed character, Sam, you’ll wind up dead. He’s a “no remorse, you get sick, you die” kind of character, and the opening scene consists of him killing someone who has come down with the flu, and he doesn’t even bat an eye as he’s doing it.
When another colony sends out a distress signal, a group sets out to help them. As they arrive, they see that all the members of the colony are dead, and there’s something else that will soon be coming after them.
“The Colony” doesn’t attempt to bring anything new to the genre; it all just seems to come from a book on how to make a horror film quickly and on a low budget. The performances aren’t terrible, but Paxton acts like he is desperately trying to create a lighter version of his “Aliens” character.
Director Jeff Renfroe tries to take his film into zombie territory, but the “ferals” – as they are known – are a cross between zombies and cannibals. They aren’t undead, but they also don’t speak, and they carry weapons with which they kill others. It’s an interesting approach, and the effects look rather realistic, but it’s also a bit complicated in trying to understand exactly how they got this way. Sure, being stranded in a snow-covered area with a scarce amount of food and the likelihood of dying from illness can turn people crazy – but to have it affect a lot of people in the area seems like there might be an actual disease spreading.
There are many films that deal with the same situations in a better fashion than “The Colony.” John Carpenter’s “The Thing” came to mind during the opening shots, and that perfectly blended the fear of surviving the snow and the fear of facing some strange creature. Even Joe Carnahan’s “The Grey” came to mind, and that didn’t deal with the supernatural at all. It just had the fear of surviving a snowstorm and wondering what’s out in the wilderness. But, again, Renfroe’s film isn’t that bad; it’s just been done before and done better.