HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Remaining
HTS Overall Score:71
Horror movies have pretty much exhausted all available avenues to exploit over the years. We’ve been subject to slashers, demonic possessions, jump terrors, ghost movies, the list goes on and on and on. Horror movies based on a Judeo/Christian background have been around forever, and usually fall under the demonic possession experience, e.g. “The Omen”, “The Exorcist” and the like, but “The Remaining” takes a different angle as it goes into the events right after the rapture (aka, the time when all of the chosen ascend to heaven and the rest are left behind). This particular time period has been covered in such things as “Left Behind”, but in a much different light. There the focus was on the events and turned it into a Christian suspense/adventure film (or rather series of films), but what better event in Biblical lore than to stage a horror scenario? It makes perfect sense, people are vanishing all around you, confusion running rampant and the affliction of the events of the trumpets. It sets it up perfectly for a terrifying scenario. Unfortunately a weak script hampers the very enthusiastic efforts of director Casey La Scala and turns what could have been a great movie into a very mediocre one.
The day starts out with joyous celebration as Dan (Bryan Dechart) and his lovely bride, Skylar (little Alexa Vega from “Spy Kids” all grown up) tie the knot with friends and family. The happy day is viciously interrupted as friends and family around them just drop dead, their eyes covered in a milky haze. Dan, Skylar, Tommy (Johnny Pacar), Jack (Shaun Sipos), his girlfriend Allison (Italia Ricci) and a young girl named Sam (Liz E. Morgan) are left in total confusion, along with a bunch of humanity. It appears that this was not an isolated incident as planes fall from the sky, cars are left with slumped over bodies in them, cooks are dead at their jobs and only a portion of humanity is left standing with no idea what’s going on. The only one who seems to have a clue is Skylar. Being a church goer her whole life she recognizes the signs of the apocalypse, especially when hail starts falling from the sky mixed with blood. The rest of her friends are a bit more skeptical about the events, but that starts to change when Skylar is attacked by a fallen demon on the way to find Allison. Taking refuge in a church fathered by a wayward pastor, named Father Shay (John Pyper-Ferguson…”Gone in 60 Seconds”), the group ties to put some semblance of order to the chaos.
As the group starts to piece together the puzzle that eluded them, Skylar suffers from the wounds she received at the hands of the fallen, requiring medical aid that can’t be administered by the limited equipment at the church. Doing everything they can, Dan, Allison, Tommy, Jack etc. pull together and get what meds they can. When that proves ineffective they wait till daylight to form an expedition that will get Skylar to a hospital in town. Now it’s a battle against time and a battle against themselves as they are forced to make decisions in light of this radically life changing event. For some there is hope, but others, no matter how much you tell them the truth will stay blind. Even damning themselves to a fate worse than the death they are going to experience.
As a believer, I have to chuckle as there is, of course, some extrapolation and interpretation of the biblical texts here. No one is exactly sure of the events that are prophesied in revelations, other than the brief descriptions and warnings uttered. The exact day to day experience after the rapture is a mystery, but that doesn’t keep the human imagination from wondering and trying to come up with theories. As a person of faith I have no problems whatsoever with them adapting the rapture scenario into a horror movie, in fact I rather welcome it, because it truly IS a horrific experience for those who are left behind. Terrors unknown that will afflict, the knowledge that you’ve been passed over and have been wrong, and the threat of physical torture from the other side isn’t exactly something that sounds pleasant to me. The problems with this movie, though, come from the script. The first 1/3rd of the movie starts out quite promising, with a creepy scene with lifeless bodies dropping all around them. The confusion, the panic, the terror is palpable and real (despite the limited budget) and the crew dodging the fallen is quite fun and dramatic. It’s in the second act that the cracks start appearing as it becomes obvious that the movie is leaning a lot on jump scares and herky jerky movement to startle the viewer into scares. Once or twice is perfectly fine in a horror flick, but overuse starts to become repetitive and boring.
The problem I usually have with faith based movies tends to be that the film makers are way too busy with using the movie as a vehicle for the message, instead of allowing the message to weave itself into a well-crafted story. There have been a few good ones, like “Let the Game Stand Tall” and “Soul Surfer”, but far too many Christian movies fall apart due to poor creative decision long before the message runs out. The third act is where the cracks in the movie’s veneer started to widen into full blown rifts, as the movie beat you over the head with the “making a choice” part of the storyline. I’m not saying that they should have left that out, as it is an INTEGRAL part of the post rapture story, but the constant bludgeoning of it over our heads severely diminished the horror effect of the film and it seemed like there were two stories fighting against each other instead of working together hand in hand. I really enjoyed the direction and source material of the effort, but the weak writing made it a much less than great film to watch on screen.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of terror, violence and destruction throughout, and thematic elements.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=37290[/img]“The Remaining” is a rather low budget movie, and it shows a bit in the video transfer. Shot digitally and stylistically enhanced with some teal and burnished gold color hues and a LOT of dark scenes, it looks quite impressive, with a few limitations imposed upon it by the low budget. Colors are heavily teal and golden, with moments of natural skin tones peeking through. The majority of the film is shot with a stand POV, but there are some moments of shaky cam, “found footage” style shooting as Tommy keeps his wedding documentary camera running throughout the movie. Those, of course, look drastically lower in quality, both in shooting style as well as resolution, but the rest of the movie looks solid with good detail and proper contrast. Since it’s a horror flick, you can be certain there is a LOT of dark sequences and the black levels are put to the test. Most of the time the blacks hold up VERY well, but sometimes the cheap cameras can’t help but crush blacks and lose shadow detail in the shuffle. It’s a good encode, and the stylistic intents by the filmmakers looks quite good on camera, leaving us with a very satisfactory looking movie experience.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=37298[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA doesn’t suffer as much from the lower budget as one would have expected. Low budget films tend to always be a bit front heavy and lacking in the ambiance department. “The Remaining” bucks that trend by giving us a stellar audio experience that REALLY sucks you into the center of the action. From the moment the rapture happens and the fallen started appearing I knew we were in for a treat. The track gets real aggressive, real fast and doesn’t let go of you the entire time. The surrounds are filled with all sorts of creepy atmospheric sounds, ranging from the whispering of the fallen, to the creaking of a door in the background, to the sound of running footsteps from behind, and the LFE channel is THROBBING with power. Jump scares are accentuated with deep wallops of LFE that knock you back in your seat and then kicks you right out of it with another one. Dialogue is spot on and locked up in the front, like you’d expect. There’s not instances of distortion (usually common in low budget films) and the voices blend in nicely with the effects. Simply phenomenal from beginning to end.
• Deleted Scene: Tommy Apologizes to Jack
• Divine Revelations: Making "The Remaining"
“The Remaining” stems from a fascinating premise and certainly starts out on a high not, but soon falls stumbles as the lackluster script hampers the films very obviously admirable efforts. The movie had great scenes in it, followed up by cheaper scenes that battled against each other constantly. The minute something creepy and well done would happen, there would be a moment of incredible stupidity that would make even the most avid horror fanatic, well versed in the cheesy tropes of the horror universe, to bang their head against the wall in frustration. I admire the effort by the film makers, and it really comes from great source material, but the proof is in the pudding, as they say, and this pudding tastes a bit subpar. The video and audio are great, despite the obvious budget constraints, and certainly act as the high point for the film, but the extras do leave something to be desired, and strangely enough, in a horror movie that’s very obviously faith based, some meatier extras could have given some dimensionality to the work. Rental at best.
Starring: Johnny Pacar, Shaun Sipos, Alexa PenaVega
Directed by: Casey La Scala
Written by: Casey La Scala, Chris Dowling
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 88 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 27th 2015
Buy The Remaining Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Rental at best
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