Another day, another vision of the end of the world as we know it. Generations after the richest of humanity fled the dying Earth for a new interstellar home, a team is sent back to discern if it is once again suitable for human habitation, as infertility could spell the end of their time elsewhere.
The sophomore feature of Swiss director/co-writer Tim Fehlbaum, after his matter-of-factly-named debut a decade earlier with Apocalypse, The Colony is reminiscent of a fair amount of modern sci-fi cinema, yet it struggles to maintain either its own identity or even its own entertainment value.
The visual palette courtesy of cinematographer Markus Förderer seems designed solely to appeal to those who get horny over literal shades of grey (with the odd bit of flesh tone and lightest of blues thrown in). In depicting the swamplands of evacuated Earth, it becomes difficult to focus on what’s being shown after a while, as if the film is intentionally trying to make the audience’s eyes glaze over. When it’s not trying to discombobulate through the claustrophobic use of handheld camera work, that is.
The story at large, centered on Blake (Nora Arnezeder) as the last survivor of the second manned mission back to Earth, emphasises the tentative future of the human race through dramatic revelations about families, children, and Blake’s own relationship with her father (connecting this to the larger ‘Daddy In Space’ trend that has been occupying Hollywood since Interstellar).
However, rather than adding to the thematic textures already present in the story, it comes across more like the residents of Planet Erf from Beyond Thunderdome found their way onto the set of Waterworld.
It makes the mistake of introducing multiple ideas, including space colonialism, the separate dialect of the new Earth-dwellers, and bits of 1%-er hypocrisies through the repeated chants of “for the many”, but rather than fleshing them out, it just leaves them to introduce even more ideas to give the illusion of depth without actually creating the layers required.
It doesn’t help that the actors carrying this production (and with how drab everything is, they need to do so) aren’t all that interesting either. Arnezeder starts out rather stiff in the lead and largely stays there, never managing to bring the sense of strength and determination it calls for, while the myriad of child actors exist more as outgrowths of the story than as sentient human beings. To say nothing of Iain Glen’s later appearance, which almost makes his turn in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter seem like a step-up, as at least he had fun in that film; and Joel Basman as his right-hand-man and general embodiment of how ugly humanity turns out in just about all apocalyptic fiction, requisite sexual assault scene included. Stay classy.
The Colony is, at the risk of sounding crass, rather colon-y when all is said and done. A flat and rather disappointing feature that only manages to avoid offense of taste and mannerism purely because it’s too dull to create even that much of a reaction. It’s the kind of film you don’t forget about right after watching it, but while in the middle of watching it.