Made in Britain: Colin
Colin was a film that flashed briefly into the public consciousness on release in 2008. The director, one Marc Price, made a virtue of how cheap his film was, costing, allegedly, £45 to make. Now, whether this is true (and I’m somewhat sceptical) the reality is that he used equipment, both camera and editorial that he was either given or already had in his possession. Were I to make a film, then it would cost me a hell of a lot more to both rent the camera and gain access to Adobe Premiere. Nevertheless, the focus on the cut-price nature of the production does, to me, reek of trying to cover over limitations by focusing on one extraordinary feature, and as such excuse the obvious knock on effects of those problems.
Colin is an ordinary guy. The film opens with him entering his friend’s house. Little does he know that his friend has turned into a zombie. Colin manages to fend him off, but not before being bitten himself, with the usual predictable zombie consequences. The rest of the film follows Colin as he shambles around London being all undead. The film concludes with a flashback that fills in the events we missed at the start of the film to thus complete the circle.
The actors were apparently recruited using Myspace and Facebook, therefore, we’re not talking about professionals, but how much range exactly do you have to show to be a zombie? They give out lessons in Shaun of the Dead, and even Davina McCall has managed it convincingly in the past. However, by this lowly standard, it’s only fair to say that all the cast, but Alastair Kirton in particular do a good job. So, no real quibbles there.
What I do have problems with is the rest of the film. Colin at the time was hailed as being the first ever film shot from the point of view of a zombie. This may well be true, I couldn’t say either way. However, that doesn’t mean that a film shot from a zombie’s perspective is necessarily a good idea. This may be Colin’s film, and it indeed may well be breaking new ground, but it is also living proof as to why this has never been done before. Simply put, it is, frankly, not at all interesting to follow a zombie around doing zombie things, and getting up to all types of zombie type shenanigans.
By definition, a zombie is a slow, shambling creature primarily motivated by hunger and utterly impervious to pain. They don’t think, they don’t talk, they can’t solve even elementary puzzles (such as door handles) and all in all, they aren’t the most interesting protagonists that you could place at the centre of a narrative. Romero in his more dim-witted days has had them thinking and so forth, but it never works properly (outside of Return of the Living Dead, which is a series played for laughs anyhow). Colin may be a zombie, but he’s an old fashioned one. He wants for nothing more than the opportunity to chew on some people and seems to be following a path through London dictated by some residual memory.
This is the big problem with the film: following a zombie around is not very interesting. In fact, I’ll go further than that: following a zombie around is downright fucking boring. It isn’t helped out by the obvious cheapness of the production, everything looks like grainy shit because the bottom ranked equipment clearly couldn’t do any better. However, against that, watching him shamble around is just an entirely dour and dull experience. In theory this is a fairly good idea, but by its very nature the story is hamstrung because any character that may be of interest is little more than peripheral. Colin, the eponymous central figure of the film isn’t a character, he’s a zombie and as such he has nothing interesting or defining to do. This makes the film boring, and that, at the end of the day is the big sin of the Colin.
The next problem is that Colin was shot on hand-held camera. So you can never guess what I’m about to say: welcome to shaky hell. Lots of the film, particularly the mugging sequence, is borderline unwatchable as the camera shakes like a blancmange on a pogo stick. I understand that this is a direct result of the cheapness of the equipment, but it does render the film almost unwatchable on more than one occasion, which is a crying shame, really.
I haven’t got a huge amount more to say about Colin, really. I appreciate the effort that went in, and I admire Price for getting an almost 0 budget film made and distributed, but I do genuinely dislike the attempt to downplay the actual cost of making it. For a start, it strikes me as disingenuous to claim that it cost £45 because you already owned the camera. Sure, you didn’t buy it to make Colin, but you had already spent the money on it. Then there’s the cost of the computer/ Adobe/ travel for those actors chosen. That all had to be paid for from somewhere. Just because it wasn’t spent, by Price, at that point doesn’t mean it wasn’t spent. In a way, I object to the claim that it cost so little, because it is palpably untrue and if he had claimed that it cost less than, say, £5,000 then we’d all have been lauding the achievement. Nevertheless, by picking a number as absurdly low as £45 he all but guaranteed that I’d spend the entire run time watching it and picking holes in his declared budget.
Overall, nope, I don’t recommend this. Colin is, on paper, a really good idea implemented with no little aplomb for a budget that ranks as miniscule. However, in reality, Colin is actually a really good idea for a short film running less than 5 minutes, but at full feature length watching a zombie shamble around while you sit on the sofa performing mental arithmetic is not an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours. Colin was a nice try, but should probably have remained a student film project.
Next up I may do the other extreme and idiotic zombie parkour antics in The Devil’s Playground, which features ubercunt Danny Dyer and utterly wastes Myana Buring. Or I may not. I’m not sure.