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DVD Review: Colin

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Some things are a given. If a filmmaker is going to make a commercial zombie film for $75, I have to see it. And so, my children, here with all its “bags of gore” is Colin. Released October 19, Colin is a British import, a story detailing the life of a zombie through his own eyes.

The first surprise about Colin is all the things that are done right. From the very start, its darkness fills the screen (and the viewer with dread).  In the opening, a close-up of a bloody hammer on a counter is more unsettling than watching whatever action soiled it. Straight away, the protagonist is attacked; meanwhile there are muted screams heard occasionally coming from the street. This is London, in the “throes of a cadaverous apocalypse.”

Colin dies after the attack, but revivifies as a zombie. He wanders deserted streets, strewn with litter; he passes houses in which zombies are attacking humans. Jerky camera work adds to the effectiveness of these scenes. Soon he comes across other zombies who are out and about, preying on any unfortunate soul who happens by. Scenes of zombies feasting on fallen people are shot in such a way that viewers see nothing except the horrifying panoramas in their own imagination. Blood is artfully applied, achieving a realistic effect, rather than improbable spray.

Feeding scenes are, above all else, nauseating. No matter how artistically filmed, Colin is revolting.  Yes it’s convincingly acted, but it is also graphically gruesome.

Interestingly, as Colin wanders, he comes across items with which he was once familiar—a few megablocs, an MP3, player—but it seems their use eludes him. He is merely a shuffling, staggering corpse out for a bite. When he is set upon by human thugs out to steal his shoes, the audience sympathizes, perhaps because he seems so helpless (and, at first, he is still attractive, despite what he’s become).

Filmed on location, there are no expensive sets (or cheesy ones), but it is difficult to image how Colin was made for $75 “mostly spent on tea and cookies for…’zombies.’” Writer/director Marc Price relied on his friends and Facebook to fill his casting needs. Apparently, there are legions of would-be thespians in London who jumped at the chance to maul, maim, and spit blood. There are nearly as many who are willing to spend their free time fighting zombies.

One particularly effective scene was filmed in a house crammed with actors—zombies and their would-be victims. There is hardly room to move, and the chaos, confusion, and terror contribute to its horrifying effect. But what of the cost of blood, guts, wounds, and other assorted zombie artifacts? Most directors couldn’t film someone getting a paper cut for $75.

Another reason Colin fascinates is that there is nearly no story; the camera follows Colin as he roams. The difference between this man’s stroll through town and any other’s is that there is relentless killing and feeding along the way. This is an amazingly simple film, that shouldn’t be entertaining, but is. Edgy camera work coupled with some discretion result in an immensely watchable movie—if you can stomach the gore.  One does not have to be a zombie film aficionado to appreciate Colin, but a strong stomach and a taste for horror is definitely required.

Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent/stream Colin?  Yes, despite being filmed with an unreliable 10-year-old camcorder, it is extraordinarily realistic and exceptionally spine-chilling. Colin is available as either a single disc or in a two-disc set that includes a “making of” documentary, deleted scenes, deleted scenes with commentary, the original trailer, and Marc Price’s short film, The End.

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