sun 17/11/2019

Colin | reviews, news & interviews



Lawn of the dead: zombies in suburbia

There has been robust debate on the internet over whether Colin could, in fact, have been made for such a small sum - it makes the forthcoming chiller Paranormal Activity, made for $10,000 and now a huge box-office hit in the US thanks to a vigorous viral marketing campaign (it opens in the UK on 27 November), look like a megabudget blockbuster.

Clearly it wouldn't be possible to make even such a modest film as Colin for £45 without calling in an awful lot of favours. (The first-time director, Marc Price, told me his cast of dozens had to bring their own packed lunches, while his make-up artist, Michelle Webb, who worked on X-Men 3, and whose ingenious effects are critical to Colin's credibility, had to supply all her own kit.) But, since most producers routinely massage their official budgets up or down as a matter of expediency, the question is somewhat irrelevant.

Colin starts with the shoestring film-maker's best friend: the off-screen sound effect (the sound design and music are both above par for a production of this level). Car alarms and muffled gunfire - in reality, according to Price, recordings of fireworks exploding on Bonfire Night - are heard in the street as Colin, bloodied but unbowed, stumbles into his kitchen.

Our hero, from whose viewpoint the story is told, has indeed been infected and, as he staggers through the desolate streets of North London, will be our guide to the zombie apocalypse that follows. Zombies are inherently less sexy and charismatic screen creatures than vampires but Alastair Kirton makes him a personable Everyman who's able to carry the movie.

Some aspects are less successful. The flashbacks and folded-together chronology look very much - as my colleague Anne Billson has observed elsewhere - like that old ploy, favoured by film-makers of all descriptions, to tart up a flimsy narrative. And, while the camera's used imaginatively in the more intimate scenes, whenever a big set-piece starts up, it starts gyrating like a mad dervish while the lighting becomes positively Stygian in a patent effort to disguise the low production values and the, at times, ropey acting from the supporting cast. Such too-long sequences break up the narrative momentum and are a mighty strain to watch on the small screen.

Where the film scores is in its moments of simplicity. This isn't another smirking Z-budget spoof, but has the confidence to take itself seriously (though there are some nice odd touches of humour, such as a moment when Colin rips off a victim's ear, complete with jangling iPod headphone). And scenes in which his family confronts the illness and loss of a loved one give the little story a wider emotional resonance.


Just seen the clips. It looks so brutal and violent. Makes me wonder if it'll get a X cert in the UK.

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature


A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.