Uncovering Curiosities: Jeff Renfroe’s THE COLONY

The Colony is a highly entertaining (and good looking) B-movie from 2013 that wears its genre influences on its sleeve. Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton lead the cast, while Kevin Zegers impresses as the film’s young hero.

Set in the future where a new ice-age has engulfed the earth, The Colony follows a group of survivors lead by Fishburne’s Briggs, living underground as protection from the elements. Their numbers are dwindling and they live in fear of the common cold, which could potentially wipe them out. They receive a distressed signal from another colony, but when they go to help they discover a group of zombie-like cannibals hungry for human flesh. They soon realise that global warming is the least of their worries.

Jeff Renfroe’s film combines elements of horror and science fiction and while it may be lacking a touch in the originality stakes, the director has managed to create a very entertaining movie. Renfroe mixes practical effects and CGI in a way that helps raise the scope of this relatively low budget movie and while things may not always look 100% real, but they do look good. It helps that much of the film’s interiors were shot in a NORAD base and there’s an authenticity here that can’t be achieved by set design. The director also creates good tension throughout the piece, keeping things moving at a pretty decent pace. Things begin to come off the rails towards the film’s last act and an extra 10 or 15 minutes of added screen time would have helped what feels like a rather rushed conclusion. It’s a flaw that stops The Colony from being truly great.

Performance-wise, everyone does a spot-on job. Fishburne and Paxton play to type, which helps give their characters a cinematic shorthand. Therefore we get Fishburne’s calm and stoic leader, while Paxton plays it twitchy and nervy. Kevin Zegers does well as the young lead, who is out of his depth when things begin to take a turn for the worse. He’s likeable in the lead and it will be very interesting to see where his career goes from here.

Today a lot of B-movies often give a knowing wink to their audiences, but The Colony plays things straight, keeping things grounded, despite its post-apocalyptic setting. This realism ups the tension, creating a sense of urgency to proceedings. The Colony is one of those little gems that hits all the right genre notes, delivering a great 90 minutes of entertainment.