Despite a smashing opening sequence (the faked accidental death of two defectors), THE COLONY is less a nail-biting thriller than a cogent Big-Brother-is-Watching melodrama. Pitched in a twilight world reminiscent of 1975's THE STEPFORD WIVES, this anti-corporate, rabble-rousing social
critique makes a frightfully compelling case against suburban migration.
Rattled by the urban crime scene and mesmerized by visionary exec Phillip Denning (Hal Linden), for whom his company is developing a foolproof alarm system, Rick Knowlton (John Ritter) jumps at the chance to move his wife Leslie (Mary Page Keller), computer-wiz teenager Dannielle (Alexandra
Picatto), and artistic young son Andy (Cody Dorkin) to the Denning's secure enclave known as the Colony. Embracing their posh community's environmental control at first, Rick and Leslie inevitably have misgivings about the rigid rules and biases. While Rick's brother Mike (Todd Jeffries), a police
detective, investigates a car accident involving Bob Benson (Vince Deadrick Jr.) on the Colony's perimeters, Rick senses something more insidious than conformity at hand and discovers a buried wire in all the homes' electronics systems.
After a rebellious resident "commits suicide," and the family dog is surgically altered to prevent his barking, Rick is sufficiently spooked to leave the Colony even if it means Denning will keep the equity in his house. However, the Knowltons' speedy departure is delayed by the kidnapping of
Andy. After Knowlton's brother is nearly electrocuted on the Colony's security fence, Dannielle finds an incriminating disk, which the late-Benson had hid because it proved Denning was bugging every home in his model housing project. Imprisoning the Knowltons in their dream house, Denning is
ironically executed by his private police force when they answer the Knowlton's break-in call and spot Denning holding a handgun.
By the time the plucky Knowltons survive their terrorism, the complacent audience will have retreated far from the edge of their seats. Telegraphing its shudders, THE COLONY is too stage-managed and sanitized to be scary; the thrills can't build if the audience is keyed into every twist ahead of
time. Although short on jitters, this Chamber of Commerce horror tale does have its moments as the squabbling family falls back on its own splintering resources to defeat a well-organized messianic control freak. So, if one doesn't approach this film as a chiller-diller, but as a cautionary tale
about the hazards of perfection, then the viewer can enjoy a contemporary soap opera about "being careful what you wish for."
If Ritter isn't up to the demands of his role, he at least makes an adequate Everyman. Likewise, the supporting cast adequately conveys the film's scariest notion: Creepy model citizens make excellent bogeymen.(Violence, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1996
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Despite a smashing opening sequence (the faked accidental death of two defectors), THE COLONY is less a nail-biting thriller than a cogent Big-Brother-is-Watching melodrama. Pitched in a twilight world reminiscent of 1975's THE STEPFORD WIVES, this anti-co… (more)