The Colony (2013)

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When in doubt, a frozen hellscape will definitely add depth and dread to your horror movie—even if the main characters in The Colony spend entirely too much time hiking around on another egregious AIW (Anonymous Industrial Walkabout). Still, the production values here are decent, the story is reasonably compelling and the atmosphere is chillingly claustrophobic. The presence of a couple genre vets in Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton, doesn’t hurt either.

Nuclear winter has fallen and in a few lonely outposts, humanity attempts to restart society underground. The titular colony has suffered a drop in numbers lately, thanks to a nasty flu that’s been going around. This is usually followed by the afflicted citizen either getting shot by an increasingly paranoid Mason (Paxton) or being sent on “the walk,” a stroll through the aforementioned frozen hellscape which offers a grimly minuscule chance at survival. But hey! At least they have a choice!

When Briggs (Fishburne), the colony commander, loses radio contact with one of the few remaining outposts, he takes a small team out to investigate. And here come the cannibals, led by a fearsome bald giant (Dru Viergever). But how can three guys fight a ravenous mob? Unsuccessfully, as it turns out.

There’s nothing blazingly innovative going on in The Colony, but cowriter and director Jeff Renfroe keeps it moving with a minimum of stupid crap we don’t care about—despite a surfeit of aimless rambling. You will watch, you will care, and you will be effectively entertained.

 

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Dying Breed (2008)

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Another entry in the “isolated cannibal clan” genre, Dying Breed is way better than the earlier-reviewed Hillside Cannibals (but then, so is an average episode of Three’s Company), thanks in no small part to its being set in the deep, vibrant woodlands of Tasmania.

Zoologist Nina (Mirrah Foulkes) plunges into the harsh and unforgiving forests of Western Tasmania seeking evidence of the presumed-extinct Tasmanian tiger—the same mysterious beast that her zoologist sister Ruth was chasing several years earlier, before the latter turned up disfigured and drowned. (Dunno Nina, think I’d leave this one alone.)

Along with her boyfriend Matt (Aussie Leigh Whannell, who also wrote Insidious and a couple Saw movies), his obnoxious buddy Jack, and Jack’s cupcake, Rebecca, Nina wanders hither and yon before stumbling upon the rustic and remote township of Sarah, populated by the descendants of Alexander Pearce (aka, “The Pieman”), an escaped convict who eluded the police in that area nearly 200 years earlier. Pearce was later captured and hanged under a cloud of suspicion that he had resorted to chowing down on his chums while hunkered in the bush. Needless to say, the party soon finds itself firmly ensconced in the soup. (Or they end up in quite a pickle, your choice, but I like soup a little better.)

Instead of intrepid ineptitude (again, see Hillside Cannibals), Dying Breed is a grim, well-executed “don’t-go-in-the-woods” fable, directed, plotted, paced, and acted with unwavering efficiency. The Tasmanian locale carries the same palpable sense of dread and foreboding as the back country of Pennsylvania in Deliverance (a movie that’s referenced here), and the local color is even more bloodthirsty. Warning: There are some highly unpleasant implications vis-a-vis “women as breeding stock” here, which may not play in your particular domestic Peoria.