There are only two distinguishing characteristics of The Colony, in select theaters today: 1) snow and 2) cannibalism. But it’s really the cannibalism where The Colony gets truly unique. And by unique, I mean ridiculous. Spoilers ahead...
Apparently The Colony is one Canadian production company’s attempt to prove to studios that Canada can make big-budget action movies at a fraction of the cost. They are successful in that regard; The Colony is in fact a movie. And that’s pretty much all you can say for it.
Taking a fistful of the most clichéd clichés in the post-apocalyptic genre, The Colony is set 20 or so years after the world has frozen over, and people live in small — wait for it — colonies that are mostly underground and look uncannily like the basements of large department stores. All the standards are there: A tough but good-hearted leader played by Laurence Fishburne, an asshole who is inexplicably second-in-command despite his penchant for ignoring the rules and killing people played (as usual) by Bill Paxton, a bland, good-looking lead with a mysterious past who is somehow in charge of saving the survivors by the end of the movie from the menace that has been awakened.
When The Colony receives a distress call from The Other Colony, our bland protagonist, Laurence Fishburne and a young man whose desire for adventure outweighs his bravery and whom I’ll call Expendable Lad set out for 20 long minutes of on-screen walking through the snow (Laurence leaves Bland’s young girlfriend in charge of The Colony, to make it easier for Paxton to stage his inevitable coup while they’re gone).
The movie's snowy exteriors seem less like an attempt to portray hauntingly beautiful CG vistas or present a terrifying glimpse at how we might be imperiling our planet and more a cheap way to use greenscreen. Actually, the whole movie feels like a slightly above budget Doctor Who two-parter, especially since 95% of the film takes place in small, nondescript sets.
When the group arrives at The Other Colony — and I should point out that they’ve received this distress call after a mere week of silence — they are rather perturbed to discover the Other Colonists have all been eaten by “cannibals." I put cannibals in quotes (and I used air quotes when I typed too, FYI) because The Colony seems to have a very strange idea of what cannibalism is. I admit I’m not an expert on the subject, but I’m pretty sure eating human flesh doesn’t 1) render you incapable of speech, 2) sharpen your teeth into fangs, 3) make you impervious to damage such as bullets, and 4) remove you of all rational thought. I’m definitely sure that even the hungriest cannibals would probably just start eating each other as opposed to spending the time to hunt down the people in a whole second Colony several miles away, in the snow, over a bridge that Laurence Fishburne sacrifices himself to blow up. Seriously, when Bland first sees the cannibals, they’re in a big monkey pile of about 40 people — it’s like they’re already sitting in a massive, cheap Ryan’s Steakhouse buffet. So why are the cannibals so hell bent on driving across town to get to Arby’s?
But gaping plot-holes aren’t The Colony’s worst problem. The Colony is a movie in the most technical sense of the word, but it lacks anything a movie needs to be entertaining. Interesting characters. Amusing dialogue. An immersive setting. A fascinating villain. Cool special effects. A way to pass the time in-between expository dialogue that isn’t minutes of Laurence Fishburne walking in a greenscreened winter wonderland. Anything that you could somehow honestly describe as “better than all right.”
But The Colony is a movie. It definitely has that going for it.