Colin (2008)

OCTOBER 18, 2010


It can be pretty rough in spots, but I fully endorse the “outside the box” approach that Marc Price took with Colin, which depicts a standard zombie outbreak but tells it all the through the eyes of one of the zombies. It’s one of those “how has no one thought of this before” concepts that perhaps could have benefited from a bigger budget and/or a tighter script, but after a zillion interchangeable zombie movies, I’ll take an imperfect original over a polished bore.

One interesting aspect is that there is almost no real dialogue in the film until the final moments; I think we’re at the 25 minute mark before someone says something of note, and that is fairly brief. It makes sense – zombies don’t usually talk after all, and probably don’t understand what anyone is saying, so since we’re in Colin’s “world”, any dialogue would probably have to be filtered or played backwards or something to keep the perspective. And since the movie is basically Colin stumbling around the city, it takes on a sort of hypnotic feel. It's Gerry with zombies!

Alastair Kirton as Colin is also terrific, making a compelling character without speaking a word (and, you know, being a goddamn zombie). It’s not until the end of the film that we really understand where he’s coming from and how he got involved with the zombie invasion in the first place, so it’s kind of melancholy when everything comes full circle. How many zombie movies make you say “aww...” at the end? Zombie Honeymoon is probably the only other one I can think of.

It’s a shame that his performance is often obscured by the god awful shaki-cam, which is like Paul Greengrass to the nth power. On a roller coaster. While drunk. As I’ve said before, effective shaki-cam DOES require a skilled cameraman, and Mr. Price is not one of them. Making matters worse, the standard-def camera that they used was not suited for this sort of nonsense (nor was the film compressed properly – even the end credits are blurry, like a quarter resolution blown up to full screen), so you just have entire action scenes that are little more than a series of incomprehensible images and image artifacting. I get that they want things to be chaotic, but even a zombie can probably make out what he’s looking at and not see digital blocks all over the place.

It also could have used an editor that wasn’t also the guy who wrote and directed it. 97 minutes for a movie about a zombie wandering around is a bit much, and nearly every scene could be easily pared down, resulting in a film that’s more in the 75-80 minute range. Or, it could even be the same length, but use that time to make the occasional action scenes carry a little more weight – we rarely have any idea who is being attacked, which is fine until they make little suspense moments out of it. Who cares if someone you don’t know gets bitten? Our HERO is a zombie! I like that he’s just sort of a random observer in most of the film’s events, but that makes scenes without him (he often disappears in these scenes, at least, I THINK he does – again, it’s hard to tell what I’m looking at in a lot of the more chaotic moments) feel like they’ve been tossed in from another movie entirely. It’d be like if they kept cutting to Helen Hunt during Cast Away or something. Keep the camera on Colin!

One benefit to the movie’s borderline silent approach is that if you can’t endure the shaki-cam for two viewings, you can enjoy the commentary on your first viewing if you like. It’s a great track, with Price admitting some of his mistakes, pointing out several references (including one that was meant to be another George, not Romero), and explaining how they got away with certain sequences. They also spend a laudable amount of time thanking all of the friends and family who let them beg borrow and steal to get the movie done. Some deleted scenes are mentioned more than once, but the commentary is the only extra on the disc (and it’s broken – when you select the commentary from the menu it just stops the disc; I had to just play the movie normally and then switch the audio track). However there is a 2-disc edition available, so I would assume that (and more) is on the 2nd disc - it's a bummer they didn't send that one to me! I notice a lot of DVD sites don't even bother reviewing the extras anymore - I do it even for movies I bought/rented on my own! I'd certainly do it for something I was sent to review.

It’s good to know that after all this time and so many movies, folks are still finding unique ways to tell their own zombie stories. The film’s got a lot of technical issues (not all of which can be chalked up to their alleged 75 dollar budget), but it’s interesting and ambitious, which is more than I can say for most. Someone give Price a tripod and a bigger check and let him do it again!

What say you?


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