The ultraformulaic horror thriller The Colony has just about everything bloodthirsty adrenaline junkies could possibly want: blood, fear, guns, blood, knives, terror, blood, dread, love, blood . . . oh, and lots of starving, marauding psycho cannibals with razor-sharp teeth. (They take an industrial-size file to their pearly whites. Hey, it's a lifestyle choice.)
There are a few nice scares in The Colony, and the female lead, Rookie Blue's Charlotte Sullivan, looks really, really cute in blond dreadlocks. But she can't save the movie, nor can her impressive costars, Bill Paxton, Kevin Zegers, and Laurence Fishburne.
Writer-director Jeff Renfroe's pic has a cookie-cutter feel: It's as if he wrote down a checklist of everything you could cram into a dystopian sci-fi shocker on a $16 million budget, took a shopping cart, and went nuts at Hollywood's Stories R Us strip mall.
So here goes:
The dystopian setting: In the near future, we mess up our carbon footprint so badly (the science is fuzzy-wuzzy) that we bring down on our suffering Mother, Gaia, another ice age. The sun cannot shine through the clouds.
Life as we know it: So, like a few billion people die, as do all plant and animal life. The few who survive live in underground bunkers. A cool bunker at that: This is apparently the first film to be shot at the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) base in North Bay, Ontario, Canada.
The new deadly threat: Our heroes, who are led by ex-soldiers Briggs (Fishburne) and Mason (Paxton), receive a distress call from a neighboring colony.
Briggs, his protege Sam (a very determined-looking Zegers), and scaredy-cat newbie Graydon (Atticus Mitchell) take a hike through the ice and the snow - a lovely, burned-out, devastated cityscape looming in the background. Their sister colony seems deserted.
There's not a soul in sight, until our intrepid trekkers walk into the industrial-size kitchen.
What horror awaits them: They find this big dude, Feral Leader (Dru Viergever), as the alpha bad guy is called in the screenplay, watching over a flock of blood-drenched cannibal minions as their chef hacks up what remains of the hapless colonists.
The inevitable showdown: There's a mad chase, and a violent showdown inevitably occurs.
The heroic sacrifice: A hero embraces death to save the group.
The bittersweet ending: So much loss! Yet hope, and perhaps a glimmer of the sun, awaits in the distance.
The Colony *(out of four stars)
Directed by Jeff Renfroe. With Laurence Fishburne, Bill Paxton,
Kevin Zegers, Charlotte Sullivan. Distributed by Image Entertainment.
Running time: 1 hour, 33 mins.
Parent's guide: Not rated (extreme violence, gore, profanity, cannibalism)
Playing at: area theaters
Contact Tirdad Derakhshani
at 215-854-2736 or firstname.lastname@example.org.