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Monday, November 8, 2010

COLIN -- DVD review by porfle

In what may be the first emo zombie flick, COLIN (2008) gives us a ghoul's-eye view of what it's like to die and wake up as the living dead.  The result is a film that makes us identify with the titular flesh-eater as he wanders through his bizarre new existence and tries to adjust to being an ambulatory corpse.

The story begins as pre-zombie Colin (Alastair Kirton) makes it home through what sounds like utter chaos outside.  He's been bitten in the arm, and we know what that means, right?  To make matters worse, his zombiefied roommate attacks from behind and chomps him on the neck.  Colin subdues him but soon succumbs to a slow, painful death, followed by the inevitable reanimation. 

We then follow our decomposing protagonist as he stumbles through a series of vignettes designed to give us an idea of what the zombies in all those George Romero movies go through.  Colin seems to have been reborn as a wide-eyed naif rediscovering the world, gazing perplexed at once familiar things which are now just beyond his understanding.  One of the cleverest aspects of the story comes when a couple of seemingly random visual cues spark the wisp of a memory in Colin's mind, and will eventually lead him back to where it all started. 

In the meantime, we watch Colin participate in his first feedings as he and his fellow ghouls chow down on some unfortunate humans.  After chewing a guy's ear off, he dons the earphones which seem to come with it (reminding me of Bub from DAY OF THE DEAD) although he can't remember why.  Later, he comes across the scene of a horrific siege as the dead crowd into a house where some filmmakers trying to shoot a documentary about the current apocalypse find themselves overwhelmed by their subject.  This harrowing scene, which plays like the climax of another zombie flick, is very well done and gives us some good old-fashioned "ghouls attacking en masse" thrills.

One of the women escapes this carnage but soon falls into an even more harrowing predicament in which she finds herself menaced by both the living and the dead.  In another scene, a death squad on the hunt for zombies descends on Colin and some others, and for a moment we almost regard these ruthless attackers as the enemy.  At times, the film easily manipulates us into siding with the ghouls even though the humans' hostility toward them is quite understandable--by the look on his face, the leader of the death squad is clearly motivated by revenge.  Colin, though, is simply minding his own business when the attack comes, even though his business now happens to include eating people.

The most effective sequence comes when Colin's sister and her husband abduct him from the streets and take him home for what amounts to an intervention.  Daisy Aitkens gives an outstanding performance as the heartbroken Linda, desperately showing the bound, snarling Colin some  family snapshots and trying to find a spark of recognition in him.  Shots of Colin clawing at a window as his sister and mother gaze tearfully at him from the other side reach an emotional high point rarely even attempted by films in this genre. 

Reportedly costing a whopping 75 bucks, COLIN transcends the hell out of its meager budget to become one of the most interesting films of its kind.  An obvious homage to the original George Romero films (a newspaper story mentions "St. Romero Hospital"), one can easily imagine this story taking place in England during the events of DAWN OF THE DEAD.  The slow, shambling ghouls are Romeroesque as well--not the vigorous track stars of later films, but decaying corpses whose joints are stiffened by rigor mortis.  (Gore effects are fair, makeup is good.)

The cheapjack camcorder photography becomes less of a problem as the story goes on, especially after a somewhat iffy first quarter or so during which the constant shaky-cam and murky lighting are most distracting.  Although the concept is sometimes more interesting than the execution, writer-director Marc Price displays skill and imagination in several scenes which evoke strong emotion.  Quite possibly, this is the most contemplative and thought-provoking of zombie films.

The DVD from Walking Shadows is in 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 sound.  No subtitles.  An interesting director's commentary is the sole extra.  (A 2-disc set with additional material is available.)

After so many zombie yarns about humans trying to evade anonymous hordes of flesh-chomping ghouls, it's nice to see one that offers a totally different perspective for a change.  With a deviously convincing performance by Alastair Kirton in the title role and a story that explores most of the potential of its premise, COLIN is an experience that no zombie film fan should pass up. 

Buy it at
2 Disc SE 

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