MOVIE REVIEW: Sci-fi horror film The Colony shows a bleak view of the future

Sci-fi movie The Colony dares ask: is there room for morality in a post-apocalyptic world?


The Colony is a sci-fi horror movie that shows a post-apocalyptic world where humans endure a never-ending winter. By 2045, humans have built weather machines to stop global warming, but the machines fail. It begins to snow, and it never stops.

The few remaining survivors form Colony 7 and live underground beneath the world’s frozen surface. They survive in a militaristic world where rules are followed and food supplies are rationed. The common cold is a plague that can wipe out 20 people. Burdened by illness, dwindling food sources and internal conflict, the remaining people struggle to survive.

Colony 7 receives a distress signal from Colony 5, the only other colony they know. The leader of Colony 7, Briggs (Laurence Fishburne), takes two volunteers—Sam (Kevin Zegers) and Graydon (Atticus Dean Mitchell)—on a rescue mission to Colony 5. Briggs is challenged by Mason (Bill Paxton) who thinks they should take care of their own. Despite Mason’s protests, the three go on a journey across the icy wasteland. When they reach their destination, they find that Colony 5 has been overrun by humans-turned-cannibals. Briggs and Sam barely escape with their lives. The cannibals track them down and threaten to conquer Colony 7.

Written and directed by Jeff Renfroe, The Colony reflectson the consequences of scientific and technological advancements. This future dystopia seems possible, especially since global warming is already causing extreme weather changes at present.

This is not effects-driven sci-fi. The characters use hand guns and rifles instead of ray guns. They journey across snow plains instead of teleporting. Die-hard sci-fi fans may be disappointed because the film does not push the envelope when it comes to innovation and technological imagination.

The villains are not aliens, androids or mutants. They are human beings who have become cannibals. The cannibals show the devolution rather than evolution of the human race. Humans change into a more primitive form over time. Images of cannibals eating body parts and organs are horrifying and reminiscent of zombies.

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The film tackles questions about morality and social structure. One of the film’s early scenes shows Mason pointing a gun at an old man who is sick with flu. The old man is supposed to have a choice. He can opt to be killed, or he can walk away and die in the frozen wasteland. Mason takes away his choice and shoots him. This is the conflict at the heart of the film. Can an individual still have a choice when the group’s survival depends on conformity? Is there room for morality in a dog-eat-dog world?

The actors portray their roles to a tee. As a leader who has to make the tough calls, Laurence Fishburne has the gravitas to pull it off. Kevin Zegers plays the protagonist who struggles to maintain compassion and morality in the chaos. Bill Paxton’s embittered character represents the soullessness that corrupts humans, which manifests itself as cannibalism.

The milieu is particularly effective. The icy plains evoke isolation. You can feel the coldness of the surroundings. The industrial underground shelter feels claustrophobic. The drab military bunker reflects the regimented social structure and scarce resources.

The sound intensifies the tense mood. The sound of boots clomping on the steel floor and the wailing cries echoing through narrow tunnels build up a feeling of dread. The bass-driven soundtrack adds suspense to the chase scenes.

The Colony presents an end-of-the-world scenario and makes you wonder what you would do in that situation. Taking the real-world issues of poverty, hunger, global warming and societal collapse, it presents a vision of the perhaps not-too-distant future.



Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.


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