Monday, September 05, 2016

The Remains (2016)

 Thomas Della Bella

WRITER: Thomas Della Bella


Todd Lowe
Brooke Butler
Samuel Larson
Nikki Hahn
Lisa Brenner
Ashley Crow
Hannah Norberg
Dash Williams
Maria Olsen


After John's wife passes away, he decides to move his three children out of the family home they've grown up in and into an old Victorian-era home for a fresh start. When his two youngest children venture into the attic, they soon discover an old chest that contains antiques that have a malevolent spirit attached to them. As the family begins to notice increased paranormal activity, the evil spirit starts possessing and harming the family. They must get out before it's too late.

I'll start my review by stating that I can admire a young, up and coming director who are clearly influenced by other horror genre directors who came before them or those that we consider to be the 'Masters Of Horror'. It's even more enjoyable to witness it, when a young director who started out as an up and comer, is now himself considered a master of the horror genre. It's always great to see new filmmakers paying respect to the legends.

I started my review for The Remains by talking about that paragraph on admiration as when it's done right, it really works. I enjoyed watching Eli Roth speak about his influences, as I did with Robert Rodriguez and even Quentin Tarantino. While those last two aren't exactly horror legends, they've both dabbled in the genre. As I found myself watching The Remains and being absolutely flabbergasted yet also concerned that director Thomas Della Bella sort of went past what felt like being influenced and went straight into flat-out lifting ideas from better supernatural films.

The Remains feels like the director-writer went straight into making this movie after he had just got done with watching Scott Derrickson's Sinister and James Wan's two haunted house genre classics Insidious and The Conjuring. As I began watching The Remains, it became apparent, very quickly that the director was clearly influenced or inspired by the above films as many of the big set pieces and beats in the plot felt like I'd seen them in those movies.

Regarding the comparison with Sinister. The story revolves around a father's younger son and daughter discovering a chest in the attic of the house that they've just moved into, and once opened, the two children begin being possessed by a malevolent spirit who uses them to do some pretty terrible things to the grown-ups in their lives. This is similar in the sense with the only real difference being that the father finds a box full of snuff films in Sinister. Everything else felt almost beat for beat.

The evil spirit that starts to possess the kids is where the Insidious comparison comes into the movie. The bride in black has been replaced with a psychic woman who also happens to be dressed in black. They are so similar in look and feel that when she is her evil form, it's uncanny in appearance. I do still find the old woman in black from Insidious much more menacing, though. This one comes across as more cheesy than downright scary.

The Conjuring is the last comparison and based on the fact that this felt like anytime that The Remains felt the need to throw in a jump scare, it was always a loud crash sound, and we would see a room destroyed or pictures fall on the floor. In the first Conjuring film, James Wan created one of the best set-pieces using a loud crashing sound as he pans down the stairwell to reveal something knocking all the pictures off the wall on the stairs. The Remains feels like an hour and twenty minutes of that one scene repeated, just not scary. It became very uninspired.

The two elements of The Remains that I found to be somewhat tolerable is that this movie didn't feel all that cheap, visually. It was clearly on the lower end regarding a budget but compared to some of the supernatural films that I've seen in 2016, this felt like a proper studio movie when in comparison to horror films like Snuff: Diary Of A Serial Killer and Paranormal Sex Tape. I think if Thomas Della Bella is given a script that is written by someone else, he may show promise in the near future.

Lastly, the acting wasn't all that bad. A little cheesy at times but not awful. Todd Lowe from True Blood plays the father and gives a sort of hapless and almost goofy kind of performance. Ashley Crow who I am aware of from her performances in such movies as The Good Son, Minority Report and Secret Circle gives the standout role as a very realistic and useless real estate agent. She plays an agent who couldn't care any less about her tenants, very well. Trust me, I've dealt with my fair share.



- A woman is strangled.
- A woman's throat is slit.
- Someone is heard being stabbed offscreen.
- A dead mouse is shown.
- Someone is beaten to death with a baseball bat.
- A man is beaten with wooden planks.

The Remains is a movie that doesn't offer many fresh ideas in the supernatural, evil kid, haunted house movie. In fact, I found that this film felt like it was maybe a little too inspired by other films to ever be its own beast. Many scenes and set-pieces felt very similar to other genre films. The movie lacked scares and gore as well. All in all, the only redeemable elements that I could find were the somewhat endearing acting and performances. Seek out any of the other movies that I mentioned above if you want this story done better.

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