Remains (2011)

Remains (2011)

This Town Will Eat You Alive.

After a nuclear explosion wipes out most of the population of Reno, a group of survivors must band together and fortify the casino that they’re stuck in, hoping to ride out this apocalyptic scenario and wait for help.

 

I’m not sure that there is any more originality left to be uncovered in the zombie sub-genre. Let’s face it, after decades of cinematic classics, straight-to-video cheese fests, Italian exploitation flicks, low budget home movies and every Tom, Dick and Harry trying to break into the horror genre giving their own individual slant on it, the zombie sub-genre should be left to die for the time being. But no, people still think that there is still something left to show the world. Case in point: Remains. Despite being based on a graphic novel, it seems more content in showcasing how many horror films the film makers have seen and are spooning from.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a zombie film as pointless as this. Remains covers so much familiar ground that it’s so frustrating to think about what could have been. The plot sounds overly similar to the classic zombie game Dead Rising (or more specifically the sequel which was set inside a huge casino resort) and anyone who has played that will immediately know what I’m talking about. But Remains does nothing with the casino setting at all. At times, the sets are so sparsely decorated with gambling trappings that it could be almost anywhere – a shop, a school, a petrol station, a church……they have a unique location to make a zombie film and they go and completely ignore it.

So after the promise of something a bit different in the opening few minutes, the film quickly resorts to traditional zombie film conventions – mixed group of survivors holed together; zombies trying to break in to a secure location; in-fighting amongst the group; a militant faction arrives promising salvation but offering a fate worse than the zombies; the big ‘break in’ moment where the zombies manage to get into the previously-impenetrable location; etc. There are no surprise set pieces. There’s nothing out of the ordinary. Remains contains everything you’ve seen before in superior films and it does a poor job in rehashing them.

There are not too many characters to latch onto either but boy, are they boring. They all lethargically walk around, seemingly not too bothered by what has happened and more content to booze, smoke and not talk to each other than actually trying to figure a way out. There is no energy amongst the cast. It’s all very strained – character interaction, dialogue, actions, etc. It’s almost as if everyone was as bored making it as I was watching it.

I’m probably being too hard on Remains. I’ve seen the rumoured budget and it’s not a massive amount of money so I’ve got to give everyone credit for at least making the film look like a million dollar motion picture. The budget has obviously been spent on make-up effects and the zombies look excellent, each one with their own little quirks and personality. The zombified grandma at the start of the film would find a home in any full-blown Romero flick!

 

Unfortunately The Walking Dead has pretty much torpedoed anything zombie-related for the next couple of years and we’ve been spoilt with a truly classic horror TV series. Remains and its like are just floundering around in its shadow, looking for some niche which doesn’t exist any more and end up aimless and pointless rehashes of standard zombie tropes. There’s no questioning its ambition but we can all dream big, can’t we?

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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