2013 - 94m.
This is a flick that genre fans will either enjoy for being a fast-paced b-movie thriller or dislike because it doesn't have a lot going on other than being a fun way to burn off an hour and a half. This is a simple movie with characters that only have the most obvious personality characteristics but it is effective in that you get what you expect and are satisfied at the end. Man, it sounds like I just compared watching this movie to going to a massage parlour with a "happy ending". I guess when you think about it, there is a similarity in that you know what you want, you have a good time, but know full well that it's not relationship material. I don't think I will revisit this movie any time soon but it delivered what it promised and kept me engaged throughout even though not a lot happens and there are no big moments to speak of.
Kevin Zegers (Wrong Turn) stars as Sam, a young man with a tragic past who is a member of a colony of survivors that are trying to have some sort of normal existence in an underground bunker after the world has been covered in snow and ice. They are led by a level-headed man named Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) who has established rules for the society that seem to be working. The biggest threat to the group is the risk of infection by a deadly flu that can spread quickly. Briggs has established a system for dealing with people who are infected but his former army buddy Mason (Bill Paxton) thinks the process is too time-consuming and wants to dispatch infected members in a more efficient manner with a bullet to the head. The group receives a distress call from a neighbouring colony so Briggs, Sam, and a teenager named Graydon (Atticus Dean Mitchell) agree to investigate to fulfil a predetermined pact among colony leaders. After a long trek over the snow covered city, they find the other colony has been decimated and all that remains is a group who have become cannibalistic and are hungry. Briggs and the gang get out of Dodge and head home but the cannibals are hot on their trail leading to a final confrontation with a whole lot of death.
Although this is a quick burn of 90 minutes, I am having a hard time finding a lot to say about it because the group spends the first half travelling to their destination and the other half coming back. The character arcs are very predictable and you can see everything coming well before it happens. I am familiar with director Jeff Renfroe as he made a terrorism paranoia themed movie in 2006 called Civic Duty that I have yet to see but that intrigued me and got some good press at the time. Aside from The Colony, he has gone on to work in television including a genre flick called Sand Serpents that played on SyFy. This may be where he transformed from a promising young director to more of a hired gun. He knows how to pace a movie well, however, and keeps the movie exciting and the audience interested despite the formulaic nature of the picture overall. Renfroe seems to be dancing on the edge of originality and commercialism and hopefully can give us more of the former in the future.
The coolest thing about this movie is that the locations (presumably both bunkers) were filmed at a decommissioned NORAD base that is located 60 stories below the ground. The place obviously is an impressive sight and one can imagine how isolated the cast and crew must have felt filming in an abandoned installation so far from the surface. I only wish they had capitalized on this feeling of claustrophobia and paranoia instead of making this more of an action movie above the surface. A location like this would have been great to allow the characters to adapt to a more of a siege situation. Instead, there is just a bit of characterization at the beginning and an action sequence at the end. While the movie clips along nicely, there could have been so much more done with such a unique location. I enjoyed this movie but with the talent involved both behind and in front of the camera, I can't help but feel that this was a missed opportunity on many levels. While this was a fun ride, it is frustrating that there was not more to remember as the number one rule of a great b-movie is to give people something to talk about like a great gore gag, a nice set of boobs, or an unforgettable character. Instead, this movie ends up feeling as generic as all of the other action movies that Laurence Fishburne stars in. (Josh Pasnak, 5/15/14)
Directed By: Jeff Renfroe.
Written By: Jeff Renfroe, Svet Rouskov, Patrick Tarr, Pascal Trottier.
Starring: Kevin Zegers, Laurence Fishburne, Bill Paxton, Charlotte Sullivan.