Review: The Colony / Cert: 15 / Director: Jeff Renfroe / Screenplay: Jeff Renfroe, Svet Rouskov, Patrick Tarr, Pascal Trottier / Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Bill Paxton, Kevin Zegers / Release Date: January 20th
Grim times ahead for the human race in this agreeable, if derivative, Canadian sci-fi thriller set in the year 2045. Huge weather machines built to control the planet’s climate have gone to pot and the world is plunged into a new Ice Age, survivors of an ensuing flu-like plague are forced to live in underground bunkers to escape the bone-numbing cold. Colony 7 receives a distress message from the nearby Colony 5 and sends a three-man expedition across the devastated surface to investigate. But when they arrive at Colony 5 they find hope – the promise that the weather machines can be fixed and that there’s already a ‘hotspot’ out there – and despair in the form of rabid cannibals (let’s not call them zombies) who have overrun the colony and munched on the survivors. The Colony 7 group blow up the entrance to the Colony 5 bunker and head home… but the cannibals are in hot (or rather ice cold) pursuit.
If there’s really nothing new under the sun then there’s not much new on the ice in The Colony either, but despite its paucity of original ideas and its paper-thin characters, there’s a commendable sense of scale and ambition in this visually impressive Canadian effort. Some of its frozen landscape sequences are breathtaking – deserted, snow-swept cities, shattered bridges, half-buried installations – and there’s a real sense of ordeal and discomfort as Colony 7’s little expedition, led by Lawrence Fishburn’s Briggs, toil through the snow on their mission of mercy. Some genuine excitement too in their battles with the ravenous cannibals, although the sense of desperation and ruthlessness built up in the first act – Bill Paxton’s Mason callously shoots anyone he suspects may be carrying the lethal infection – fades away in the irresistible descent into shooting and fighting at the climax.
Ambitious, action-packed and chillingly well-realised – you’ll want to ramp up the central heating, kids – The Colony isn’t perfect, but it’s perfectly entertaining and, more importantly, it’s proof that you really don’t need an inflated Hollywood budget to create a halfway decent lo-fi sci-fi spectacle.