Allumination Filmworks // 2007 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 23rd, 2008
They found a new world and an ancient evil.
Whatever happened to the colonists of Roanoke? No one knows, though these guys have a theory: they were all killed by budget CGI.
When English import Ananias (Adrian Paul, TV's Highlander) and his nice pregnant wife lead a detachment of colonists to the island of Roanoke he thinks he's on track for a bountiful life of back-breaking agricultural work and repelling Indian attacks. But something's shifty about this island. His wife starts having visions of evil specters and one by one the colonists are smitten in ghastly ways.
Turns out the bad guys behind this wanton slaughter are "wraiths," ghostly embodiments of malice that prey on souls and melt people's faces like that guy in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's going to take the combined effort of lots of musket-fire and kickass British accents to defeat this evil.
It's time for another SciFi Channel original starring another gee-haven't-seen-him-in-a-while actor, a boatload of suspect visual effects, monsters that fail to elicit even a molecule of terror and arterial spray that likely never made it into the original broadcast cut.
The folks behind Lost Colony try to put an innovative spin on the creature feature by setting it in the New World against the backdrop of a real historical happening, but that can only go as far as the actual creatures can take you. Which, in this case, is not terribly far. I kind of like the idea of the bad guys, evil Nordic ghosts that eat heads and control the trees, but it's their execution that doesn't quite cut it. These hombres are entirely computer-generated and the technology is lackluster in rendering the full spectrum of their horror-inducing potential. Yes I know it's a hack thing to impugn special effects in a made-for-TV movie, but in the case of Lost Colony all the eggs are put in one basket and that's the Creature Basket. The flick lives and dies by its heavies and the verdict, unfortunately, is death. The malformed faces are cool in some parts, but when we get the eyeful of the entire CGI wraith all suspension of disbelief vaporizes and the effort turns into Yet Another Milquetoast Horror Movie.
There is a decent selection of gore to be found, though, like the monsters that are responsible for it, it too is uneven. The practical effects work well, syrupy and copious in their amount (e.g., unspooled intestines, disfigured faces, oozing sores) though they are usually the aftermath of -- yep! -- CGI violence. This virtual bloodspray might save money on the bottom line, but there's a big difference between actual liquid being tossed around and computer-generated faux wounds. Again, low-hanging fruit, but it is what it is.
Adrian Paul is an adequate good guy, excelling at barking out commands like "I need you up here!" and "Stand your ground!" He also performs some deft expository wizardry in coming up with the tactical readout on the bad guys, including weaknesses and strategies. How he concocted the idea of building a raft to defeat the wraiths is beyond me.
Anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 Dolby Digital for the technical presentation, both of which are clean and well-received. Trailers are it for the extras.
A few nifty conceits aren't enough to make Lost Colony worth finding.
Take this GPS and scram.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Allumination Filmworks
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R