In the case of The Blair Witch, the film itself was initially promoted as real camcorder footage that had been discovered in a forest somewhere (a great gimmick and excuse for the poor image quality).
More recently there have been lots of examples of ‘so bad it’s good’ horror, with such films as Mega Piranha and Birdemic. “Okay, it looks bad, but it’s still fun right?” That’s a matter of opinion.
However, in this subject area there is another kind of publicity that is particularly irritating. It’s the ‘this film only cost £2,000 to make’ line. Most famously used for the recent box office smash, Paranormal Activity,which claims to have cost next to nothing to make.
And so to Colin, a British zombie movie that was screened at Frightfest 2009 and was billed as ‘the horror movie that only cost £500 to make’ or something silly like that. After missing out on the original release, Love Horror was looking forward to viewing it when it was recently screened on the Horror Channel.
Colin is a regular guy living in London who has the misfortune to be around when a zombie outbreak takes place. Inevitably he gets bitten and begins to turn into a member of the walking dead. Usually, the lead character getting ‘turned’ would be the conclusion to such a movie, but with Colin, it’s just the beginning. This time around, the viewer is shown life from the zombie’s perspective.
As Colin slowly lurches around the area that he used to call home, he comes across numerous strange situations. There are zombie robbers, angry zombie killing mobs, a weird man who takes pleasure in to torturing women (alive and dead) and of course there’s lots of flesh eating and groaning.
All of it seems to be shot in no particular order and using what appears to be a couple of low quality cameras.
Given the praise that this film received, one might expect to be wowed by the standard of it. To be sitting there (as in the case of Paranormal Activity) saying ‘considering that they had no money, this is awesome!’ or even ‘there’s no way that this was shot on a tiny budget it’s too good’.
However, I truely do believe that Colin was shot at very little cost. Why? Becuase it really does look and feel like it.
From the poor acting, to the inconsistent camera work, lighting and image quality, it oozes amateur clumsiness. The story has no real narrative, and although the original idea of ‘life from a zombie’s perspective’ is quite an interesting one, the lack of direction dillutes it and ultimately makes it pretty boring. Each scene brings a new group of characters, all of them played by awkward and inexperienced actors, and more often than not, ending with the humans being eaten. With little plot to string it all together, you can quickly lose interest
There is one decent dynamic worth commenting on. This is when Colin is found by his (living) sister who tries to bring him back and make him remember his human past. It’s quite a horrible concept and could lead in interesting directions. But the idea isn’t really explored to its full potential and soon fails like the rest of the film.
These views may seem harsh, but it is all too common recently for poor movies to reach our screens on the back of dodgy, deceiptful marketing. And at the end of the day it’s the paying public that has to foot the bill, paying to sit through an hour and a half of substandard crud.
If a friend showed you this movie and said that they had made it themselves for a film project at uni, you would be very impressed. But would you want to pay for it? Unlikely.
There will undoubtedly be those who argue that they like the gritty, shaky visuals and harp on about supporting British horror and the cultivation of new talent.
But in this day and age with high quality digital equipment being cheaper and more accessible than ever, it really doesn’t cost a lot to make a decent looking movie.
And if perhaps the makers of Colin had saved for a few more months before shooting, the end result could have been far better and the film might have been more than a small blip on the horror movie radar.
This isn’t the sort of film that British Horror should be pinning its hopes on.