‘The Remains’ Looks Impressive but Ultimately Lacks Originality (Review)
Written by: Daniel Hadley
Directed by: Thomas Della Bella
Cast: Todd Lowe, Brooke Butler
The Remains opens in 1861 with a mother and father visiting a medium in hopes of contacting their missing daughter. After they are introduced to said medium, who is one of the most sinister looking women I have ever had the good fortune to lay my eyes on, she goes on to spout some suitably hokey dialogue about the spirit world. You know the standard “do not break the circle” shtick. Things become rather spooky and all together kooky, when strange noises and flickering lights begin to unnerve everyone, and the father, who has had quite enough of that nonsense, inevitably breaks the circle. Chaos ensues and everyone dies. It’s noticeably cliché but it held my attention for the most part.
The first thing I noticed about this movie was the writing. The dialogue is very trite, but I can look past that for the most part, so I soldiered on. After the opening we cut to a father and his three children moving into what I came to call the old séance murder house; so along with papa we have a teenage daughter who is – as cliché dictates – angry about the move, and the young brother and sister who fill out the squabbling sibling archetypes. One thing I will say that this film had going for it was that the father bore a striking resemblance to Chris Hemsworth’s, Thor and that – not an exaggeration – from certain angles they looked identical.
So we have a family moving into a creepy old home where a group of murders took place a long while ago. It’s a familiar setup for sure, but great horror movies have come out of much less. Sadly though, this is not a great horror movie, nor is it a good one and that’s a shame because there is talent here. The cinematography is great. The movie is shot much like a James Wan film – I kid you not – it’s really that good. Some of the earlier scenes do a good job in showing the ghosts in subtle creepy ways, including an early scene where the young girl is about to leave the kitchen just as the lights go out. It’s a particularly well done sequence, but apart from some great camera work and a couple of well-executed, creepy scenes, this movie really has nothing going for it.
The story is a mish mash of better horror movies. It has the kids being influenced after finding some odd trinkets in a box in the attic from Sinister, it has the father slowly being driven to madness via hallucinations and terrible dreams from Amityville, and like I said earlier, it has the look of a James Wan movie. Even the ending title font and the musical sting accompanying it are ripped straight from Insidious.
The trailer for this movie had me a little excited. For a low budget movie the trailer was pretty slick, but unfortunately the trailer is better than the film we ended up getting. While it has some decent performances, The Remains is – sadly – all over the place. Its pacing goes up and down like the knife from the shower scene in Psycho. There are times when it attempts to ramp up the tension only to flat line for no particular reason, and for a ninety minute movie with eighty minutes of build-up that leads to nothing more than a “boo” jump scare, I was left very underwhelmed.
In the end I was never bored, but I put that down to the fact the movie constantly teased me with something greater. The well-executed camera work and a few well done creepy scenes kept me watching until the end, unfortunately all of that build up led to a huge anti-climax that left the movie drifting on an endless peak, never to plummet into a successful pay off.
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