Dare a director to create a film with a unique idea, or at the very least a unique spin on a common idea, and it’s a fair wager that only one in a million will live up to the challenge. The zombie film has been done to death and back (excuse the pun), so in 2013 director Jonathan Levine must have thought he was onto a winner with ‘Warm Bodies’ – the story of a zombie (Nicholas Hoult) who saves the still-living Julie (Teresa Palmer), and the pair build a relationship that could transform their undead world. But in 2008, indie director Marc Price of ‘Nowhere Fast Productions’ got there first with his film ‘Colin,’ filmed entirely from the zombie’s perspective
Modern Hollywood blockbusters have budgets of millions of dollars to go on all sorts of sound and visual effects to really make the film convincing, but Price has proved that all you need is fifty pounds, a little elbow grease and the determination to get the job done. Although it may not be as visually stunning as many other zombie films, such as the 2004 remake of the classic ‘Dawn of the Dead’ or the previously mentioned ‘Warm Bodies’, the cinematography, editing and originality certainly give ‘Colin’ the extra kick that’s missing in many high budget smashes. Price questioned many of the things that take up large proportions of a film’s budget, and came up with some very clever alternatives; why spend money on a set when the actual world is out there for free? When bonfire night is around the time of filming, why spend money on the sound of fake gunfire when the sound of fireworks will do the job?
‘Colin’ was shot in and around the area of London where Price and the people helping him had lived for many years, so they knew exactly when and where would be quiet enough to shoot, and the film never shows any direct gunfire (it is only ever hinted at in the background) so using Adobe Premier software he was able to edit firework sounds into the background, leaving the audience none the wiser. I was lucky enough to meet and interview Price when the film was released. “The main thing we had to splash out on,” Price explains, “was tea and biscuits for the crew. But we ended up buying the really cheap value biscuits, which were absolutely horrible and hardly anyone ate, so they lasted for quite a while. We also had to buy things like food colouring and syrup for blood.”
A major perk to having an extraordinarily low budget is that most people will not hold high expectations of what they are about to see, so it is much easier for them to walk away surprised and liking the film. I did exactly the same; walking into the cinema at a special screening in Farnham, I was dubious about watching ‘Colin’, but with a little patience it didn’t take long for me to really start to enjoy the film. There are literally only about two dozen words spoken throughout the entire thing, and any emotional link felt towards the protagonist is developed through the way he moves and the camera work. Contrary to the popular style of zombie films, the humans are actually portrayed as being the ‘baddies’ and I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for Colin at points, even though he’s shown killing someone. The whole film is very cleverly shot with subtle hints being dropped throughout as to what Colin was like as a human, and the audience is made to think and wonder from start to finish about what is really happening.
The common attitude that the first attempt of a new sub-genre should be below par certainly does not apply here – as the first ever film based entirely from the zombie’s perspective I think it works extremely well. Despite the low budget, limited cast and resources, and the near-outdated equipment ‘Colin’ is definitely on the list of “Recommend to a Friend” ‘and is available on DVD nationwide, or to stream on the Nowhere Fast Productions website.