The Colony is a post-apocalyptic thriller that takes place during a second ice age, but before you start screaming The Day After Tomorrow and tossing around words like cliché, watch the opening sequence.
Within the first ten minutes it’s clear that The Colony is not just any survival horror. The first enemy that the characters face is the common cold, a disease that can get you an instant death sentence if it turns into flu.
For once the “contagion” that’s most feared is not a zombie one, not a mutated one, but one that we have all suffered from; something that doesn’t seem so serious in a world full of asprin, hot water bottles and antibiotics. But in a world where civilization exists solely in underground pockets of humanity, it’s a different story.
This sets the scene for a movie that may contain plentiful action, gore and suspense but is at its core mostly about the human condition.
Sam (Kevin Zegers) is one of the survivors living in a tiny subterranean outpost called Colony 7 in the middle of a snowy desert. The settlement grows crops (using hydroponics) and farms animals (in cages) and tries to eke out whatever living it can. When the colony receives a distress call from its neighbor, Colony 5, 7’s leader (Laurence Fishburne) leads an aid mission. After walking through a snowy broken city for two days, the group comes upon the colony, which at first appears deserted… and covered in blood.
It soon becomes apparent that the flu is the least of Colony 7’s worries.
The story is fraught with tension and delivers on its promise when it comes to violence. The characters may be archetypes (the strong military man, the wise leader, the hopeful scientist), but the actors deliver. If you’re hoping for a glimpse of Morpheus in Fishburne, you won’t be disappointed.
What is surprising for a film that never made it to the big screen in SA, is the quality of the visuals. CGI scenery and rolling snow storms are not only believable but breath-taking. There’s a unity of colour that makes the movie feel polished and the audio is top-notch. While the dialogue may feel staid and predictable, the same cannot be said for the plot – which is refreshing.
Mostly it’s the story that grabs you. The Colony takes us to the heart of darkness and it begs us to question where the line lies between man and beast. Is there good and evil, or is there only survival?
I’ll stop before I spoil anything.