When you go into a store and scour the shelves looking for something new to watch, you are surely looking for some sign of quality. This sign can come in any number of ways; it all depends on what you want. For some, it can be as simple as a title or some cool cover-art, while for others it will be a critic’s blurb on the case, and still others will look for a favorite star, director or writer.
In the case of Lost Colony (also known as Wraiths of Roanoke), it has a surefire sign of quality as soon as you see it. You know it is going to be an instant classic. By now you must be wondering just what could be so good that its very presence could evoke this sort of reaction. The cover says, “As Seen On Sci-Fi.” I can almost hear your collective gasp. I wasn’t kidding now, was I? This is a badge of honor to be worn proudly. It does not go without saying that this title will surely be one you revisit for years to come.
I am sure you all could sense the sarcasm that dripped from that opening. If you are at all familiar with the movies that make their premiere on the Sci-Fi Channel, it is not really something to be proud of, as they tend to be low-budget shlock-fests whose only reason for being is that they were cheap and could make the network some money. They are not known for their quality. Still, if you pay attention, you may find a gem. Among the films they have had that were actually good are Cube and Dog Soldiers. Unfortunately, the majority of them end up like Lost Colony, or worse.
Lost Colony is based on the true (depending on what “truth” you subscribe to) mystery surrounding the disappearance of the Roanoke colony. As the story goes, settlers landed on the island in 1587, started a colony, and promptly vanished, never to be heard from again. The only thing found there was the word “Croatoan” carved into a tree. This was the name of a nearby island that was home to a friendly tribe of Native Americans; however, no investigation took place and the fate of the colony was never uncovered.
This movie uses this tale as a launching point. It launches into complete fiction and attempts to explain one possible version of what happened. It builds a plot in a way that would make it suitable for the Sci-Fi Channel, meaning it is not terribly realistic and does not attempt to be.
Lost Colony opens with soldiers being chased by apparitions through the forest. One soldier is caught and killed while another locks himself in a room and promptly hangs himself. The time jumps ahead and a new group of English settlers have arrived, discover the dead and decayed soldier, and begin to wonder just what happened.
The biggest offense this movie makes is that it is dreadfully boring. There is a lot of talking, people walking, people arguing, and more talking. Occasionally a nightmare vision or a ghostly apparition killing someone breaks up the boredom. It is all very dull.
Adrian Paul (Highlander: The Series) stars as Anainais Dare, the man in charge of the colony. He is the one who conveniently knows how to deal with the local Native American tribe, as well as knowing all about Norse mythology. Yes, you read that right. For some reason, when the apparitions become apparent, Dare knows all about them. A big question is what are Norse wraiths doing in Virginia? I guess this has to be chalked up to creative license.
By the time the end rolled around, I found I did not care. At this point, I was bored to near sleep and was just struggling to keep my eyes open.
Matt Codd, who has helmed a few other Sci-Fi Channel flicks, directed the movie. He does not display any particular style, and if he continues to make films like this, his development may become hopelessly stunted. Speaking of stunted, it may already be too late for first-time writer Rafael Jordan, as he has a number of projects in the works. Judging by the titles, they all look like Sci-Fi productions.
Audio/Video. Nothing wrong here. It is not quite as sparkling as a big budget Hollywood project, but that is not something to hold against this movie. It looks good and there are no discernible problems with either the anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer, or the 5.1 audio.
Extras. All you get is a trailer. Some more material would have been nice – a featurette, commentary, something.
Bottomline. Meh. If you catch it for free on television, sure, check it out. If it involves money changing hands, keep on walking. The weird thing is that it is not offensively bad; it is just terribly bland and dull.