I like zombies. Have you ever seen a zombie movie? I have. I’ve seen hundreds of zombie movies and they all follow the same premise: the zombies run amok, the survivors try to survive, the survivors do something stupid and die, the zombies win. Sometimes it’s scary. Sometimes it’s played for laughs. Sometimes you get a little social commentary. Sometimes it’s utter garbage. In the end, it’s most always something I’ll watch because in the end it’s the zombies that win. Even when the zombies lose, there is always a little something at the end leaving the door open for a sequel. Hope does spring eternal and so do the graves of the walking dead!
Since George Romero’s revolutionary low budget Night of the Living Dead, pretty much every zombie has been a remake of that movie. Yeah, there have been little tweaks like making them run instead of limp along or calling them “the infected” instead of the “living dead.” It’s still the same movie – over and over – until now.
Enter Colin. Welcome to Great Britain, where we arrive with a zombie apocalypse already in progress. How did it start? We’re never told. We are following a young man, Colin, as he enters his house. We follow him into the kitchen where he rinses off a nasty bite on his arm. A zombie enters the behind him, our hero gets the better of him. Now, following the usual plot, somehow our hero saves himself and goes into survival mode and either gathers up or joins a group of survivors for some barricading and mall looting. Instead, Colin gets very ill, leans out of his window and starts vomiting before he dies of the zombie plague.
Colin, which is the name of the movie and the main character, has a little twist. Here is where things get revolutionary, instead of focusing on a group of survivors, we follow the adventures of Colin, a zombie. Yeah. I bet you’re thinking, “Why hasn’t that been done before?” I know. I was wondering the same thing. It seems so obvious, doesn’t it?
There is no cheat here such as zombies being portrayed as thinking creatures or otherwise “re-imagined.” These are full fledged “Romero zombies,” acting on instinct, limping along, gathering into menacing hordes which dissolve when the food is gone and re-form elsewhere when the situation calls for it. I loves me some “Romero zombies!”
The story? Well, we follow Colin around and we see how society is reacting to the walking dead. Interestingly, society seems to want to follow the Kubler-Ross model of grieving: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. We see this in various experiences Colin has as he journeys along. For example, in his wanderings he encounters his sister, who in spite of everything that is going on around her thinks that Colin can be brought out it, like he is some sort of soap opera character with soap opera-style amnesia. She is denial incarnate. For fun, get a bottle of vodka (or your drink of choice) and as you watch the movie, see if you can find other examples. When you do, take a drink.
One big part of the buzz about Colin is that is was supposedly made on a budget of something like seventy dollars. Erm . . . I rather doubt that. I mean, I couldn’t pull that much out of my checking account and expect to make Colin. Clearly film maker Marc Price owns or has access to, at the very least, some high end “pro-sumer” equipment and movie editing software. I could imagine that he didn’t spend too much if his only out of pocket expenses were consumables, such as make-up and bulbs for the lights or whatnot.
Colin is very definitely a low budget movie, but it doesn’t suffer from many of the things that make some low budget movies painful to watch. The most common failing of low budget movies is usually the sound quality. The sound in Colin, for the most part, is good enough not to be a distraction. Some scenes are not lit properly, which is common in low budget movies. Colin is filmed in a sort of “found footage,” shaky camera cinema verite style that suits the story and the budget. The moving camera works to bring you into the action, almost as if you were a zombie yourself, following Colin around.
The acting is another of Colin’s strengths. Colin is a non-speaking role. As zombies lack emotional range, Alastair Kirton certainly had his work cutout for him. He has even less to work with than Boris Karloff did in Frankenstein, another mute monster staring role. The Monster could show emotion in non-verbal ways; zombies, conversely, don’t emote. Still, Kirton was able to make Colin into a somewhat sympathetic creature. Kirton plays the role with subtlety, giving the character just the barest shadows of emotion. At various points in the movie, Colin’s lack of reaction, in contrast to what is going on around him, is very stark. Daisy Aitkens, as Colin’s sister which is the second largest role in the film, was also very good. Most of the rest of the cast does a good job of it and seems very natural, rather the usual camera conscious acting common in low budget movies.
With such a tight budget you might expect the zombies to look terrible, but that isn’t the case. Colin, when his is a fresh young zombie looks pretty much like a normal human, but as he matures in the full flower of zombiehood, he gets more crispy and gross. The gore and mayhem are well done. There is a particularly gruesome scene featuring a bevy of eyeless zombies that looked very good. Film maker Marc Price was well served by his make-up and effects people.
The long and short of it is that you can tell this is a low budget movie but that hardly gets in the way of what is otherwise a truly entertaining and interesting film. I’ve always wanted to see a movie that took the point of view of a Night of the Living Dead styled zombie. Marc Price, you’ve made my Christmas wish come true.