Through the transformation of the glorious WTF-Films into the even more glorious Exploder Button and the ensuing server changes, some of my old columns for the site have gone the way of all things internet. I’m going to repost them here in irregular intervals in addition to my usual ramblings.
Please keep in mind these are the old posts without any re-writes or
improvements. Furthermore, many of these pieces were written years ago, so if
you feel offended or need to violently disagree with me in the comments, you can
be pretty sure I won’t know why I wrote what I wrote anymore anyhow.
It is the zombie apocalypse again (and again). Clutching a bloody hammer in
one hand, a young Briton named Colin (Alastair Kirton) stumbles into a house in
the suburbs. We never quite learn if it is his home or the home of a friend, but
this is not going to matter in the long run.
Colin is hurt and seems to be at the end of his strength, therefore letting
his guard down enough to get ambushed and bitten by the building's sole, undead
inhabitant. He manages to kill the zombie, but soon succumbs to his wounds.
Hours or days later, Colin wakes up as one of the shambling masses himself.
From here on out, we follow him closely for a dead man's perspective of the end
of the world. We watch as he eats his first victim, as he looks at a traffic
sign and reacts to music like he is trying to remember something, but doesn't
even understand the concept of memory anymore.
He meets and bites his sister Linda (Daisy Aitkens), takes part in a bloody
mass attack on a student dorm and falls directly into the cellar of someone
whose dreams of dead and blind women seem to have come true via the
Later, Linda and her boyfriend (Tat Whalley) catch Colin in the desperate
hope to reawaken his personality. Perhaps showing him his mother (Kerry Owen)
After this hasn't worked out quite as catastrophically as one could suspect,
Colin shambles into the crosshair of more organized survivors in form of a
Just when I had given up hope for anything not absolutely dreadful coming out
of the backyard zombie film sub-genre, this British production shambles around
the corner with a certain amount of hype and nearly floors me.
Colin was supposedly shot on a budget of £45, but with a
consumer-grade (yet probably not too cheap) digital camera available and a bunch
of surprisingly talented actors working for free, I'm not sure I'd see the
film's budget as quite this low. Be that as it may, what makes the film as
interesting as it is isn't that it was shot for very little money, but that it
was shot very little money and turned out to be an excellent film.
For once, I don't need to hesitate to give most of the props a movie deserves
to its director, seeing that Mark Price not only directed, but also edited,
scripted, and shot the film. I wouldn't be surprised if he also helped cook the
coffee. This is of course not uncommon in backyard productions, but where most
films of this price-class could use a few more hands doing the work, Price has
talent enough to make shooting a film with the smallest of crews look
However, what makes Colin worthwhile is not that it was made on the
cheap, but that it is so well done that, while watching, I very soon found
myself not being impressed by how good it was despite its budget, but how good
it was, period. There is really no connection between this film and the hateful
lack of ambition that makes too much backyard horror filmmaking so hard to
stand. I usually avoid calling these films "indie" horror, out of respect for
the quality "indie" suggest in other media like games and music. Colin,
I have no problem calling indie horror.
By now you, dear reader, might ask yourself what exactly makes Colin
so special to this long-winded guy who is rambling at you like a mad street
person (that would be me).
First and foremost, it is the film's mood. It is shot in a grainy style that
has much more in common with the texture and colour of 70s horror cinema, giving
everything that happens an immediacy I still like to call documentary, however
misused this word has become by now. Price seems to have had a very exact
picture of when and where to shoot hand-held and when to use a tri-pod in his
mind, giving the film a rhythm permanently changing between nervous action and
deliberate shambling, a rhythm very much its own.
There is a real sense of weight to the proceedings. We basically have a
nobody's view of the apocalypse by always staying close to Colin himself. At
times, we even share his inability to fully comprehend what is happening around
him, the everyday surroundings the action takes place in becoming strange and
frightening through their desolation.
This is part of where the sadness of the film lies - it were not so much the
(nicely done) gore set pieces which got to me while watching the film, but the
loss of humanity the zombies and the survivors share and real feeling of
hopelessness. This is of course nothing new in the annals of zombie cinema, yet
as long as it is done as poignant as here, originality isn't really of much
Between the carnage and the sadness, the film also has room for some fine
pieces of dry black humour, not enough of it to derail the film, yet enough to
add to its grounding in reality.
I was also struck by how different this British zombie apocalypse is from the
usual American one - cars and guns are nearly completely absent, making the
efforts of the survivors more desperate, and through that desperation, more
And the film really is terrifying at times, grasping the horror of zombies as
a shambling mass of hunger made flesh with a mind only set on consuming,
unconscious of the way it makes its victims part of its own, even unconscious of
the reality of its victims as anything beside food. There is something
claustrophobic and unconsciously cruel about the big zombie attacks in
Colin I found very disturbing.
All of these qualities could still have gone to waste without the right lead
actor, because Colin is the person/thing who keeps the fragmented narrative
together. A bad performance here would have sunk the film completely.
Fortunately, Kirton is quite brilliant in his role. He effortlessly suggests
faint traces of humanity without ever falling into the trap of playing his
zombie as something so normal as a stupid, flesh-eating man. The rest of the
actors doesn't do much worse; the fact that we only witness fragments of their
characters' stories makes it easier to relate to them than if we had to watch
them emote in long and nuanced dialogue scenes actors working for free probably
wouldn't be able to deliver as believable as needed. As the film is constructed,
everyone is only glimpsed in moments of utter desperation or sadness, dying or
Call me a loon, but I think there's a real sense of poetry in Colin,
an emotional weight found only in the best zombie films. And you know what, I
think Colin is one of the best zombie films I know.