Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Colin - review

2008 (UK)

Contains mild spoilers.

The fact Director, Writer and Producer Marc Price filmed this entirely in standard definition on an old Panasonic mini-dv camcorder that he had owned for 10 years, that he edited the film on an ageing old PC,  that all the cast were found on-line and worked for free and the claim that the entire production budget was a mere £45, it is remarkable that Colin came to see the light of day at all. What is even more remarkable is that the poor production quality, given the films subject and premise, actually works to the films benefit.

I'll explain. Colin is not another amateur attempt at reproducing Night of the Living Dead or an over optimistic  grand apocalyptic world ending extravaganza, it's a tight claustrophobic personal story of a single man's descent into the chaos and madness that is becoming a zombie. The single hand camera shakes and is low quality, the music is subtle and basic and it all helps create a raw unpleasant mood. An early scene where Colin desperately stabs an assailant repeatedly in the head with a knife is shocking, ugly and world away from approach most usually seen in highly choreographed Hollywood zombie films. Imagine a zombie being stabbed in the head in a Romero or Fulci film, then really imagine a zombie being stabbed in the head with a kitchen knife, in your own grubby kitchen. Price managed to capture the latter and I could be cynical but I believe it was intentional; that he understood his limits and worked with them.

There's no big hero; Colin (played brilliantly by Alastair Kirton) is a normal English guy caught up in the ugly situation that is the end of the civilisation. The film follows him as he's attacked, dies, then staggers from dark place to dark place witnessing just as much unpleasantness from those who've survived to those that didn't. The large cast of extras who Price claims all gladly came to his aid for free do a remarkable job and there isn't a single no hammy or second rate performance. Price also does a remarkable job in making the audience care about Colin despite the fact he's now a flesh eating marauder. In fact, turning to my partner I commented how I already cared more for Colin after fifteen minutes than I ever did any of the characters in Diary of the Dead and she nodded agreement. This says a lot.

What Colin lacks in production finish it more than makes up for in moments of genuine artistry. Price shows real vision and camera placement, shot structure and symbolic overtures are all commendable. I'll be honest, when I read £45 zombie film on the sleeve I was a tad apprehensive but this turned out to be misguided and anyway, if you actually include people's time and energy the film's cost would be considerably more. Also with such production limitations one would think the make-up and effects would be passable at best but throughout they are realistic, gritty and actually pretty good.

Colin is well worth seeking out and offers a genuinely unique take on the genre. As said the low quality production doesn't detract from the film and is more than made up for with great vision and editing. The slow pace and subtle music help bring a real visceral sense of brutality to proceedings that is often missing from glossier films. If you like your zombie films tense, claustrophobic, personal and intelligent you'll get a lot from it; just give it a little slack at times, 8/10.



  1. Yeah, I really liked this one. For another British zombie flick consider Before Dawn - Emmerdale zombies, I kid you not, but really well done to the point that I saw it at the Bram Stoker Film Festival and pre-ordered it as soon as it became available.

  2. I really should give this one a second chance. I dismissed it all too quickly the first time I watched it, but it sounds like it deserves a lot more respect than that. Thanks!

    1. You do, yours was a quick dismissal!

    2. Yeah... alright you've convinced me. I'll give it another shot!

    3. I'm still well prepared for you to still think it's a load of twaddle though...