DVD REVIEW: THE REMAINING / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: CASEY LA SCALA / SCREENPLAY: CASEY LA SCALA, CHRIS DOWLING / STARRING: JOHNNY PACAR, SHAUN SIPOS, BRYAN DECHART, ALEXA PENAVEGA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Religion or faith is one of the world’s most enduring subjects of debate. The idea of god and furthermore the belief in stories and events from a holy book filled with his teachings, is one that is mocked by some but embraced by others as a way of life…the way of life. It is likely we will all be outlived by this debate but whatever your belief may be, we can all agree on one thing: the texts of the holy books tell some of the grandest and most enthralling stories ever told. These stories have predated fantasy and in many ways come to influences the greatest stories we know and love. Cinema is awash throughout history in films that have adapted such stories and it is undeniable that when done right, these films benefit both because of the power of these tales and the grand presentation of them. One such tale is that of the rapture, an event that is to spell the end of the world, with the souls of the believers being saved. Director Casey La Scala’s film The Remaining however, tells the story of those who are left behind.
Opening in somewhat unexpected style, The Remaining from the offset takes great influence from the found footage genre. In fact the opening moments, before disaster strikes, are very similar to those of J. J. Abrams’ Cloverfield. The scenes of the film’s opening wedding celebrations soon turn hellacious as the rapture begins and sadly it is from this point on the film slips in quality until the disappointing climax. Running at only 84 minutes, the film had the potential to tell a pacey story of modern man reacting to the end of the world. Additionally, The Remaining had a wealth of meaty themes available to it: the nature of belief, modern perceptions of religion and what makes one deserve salvation. Yet the film’s most fundamentally disappointing flaw is that it never really goes anywhere with it’s onscreen rapture or any themes.
The tagline on the DVD reads “After the Rapture, There are fates worse than death” and admittedly the film shows glimpses of such dark forces but the story is little more than a tale of admitting you should have believed. It is somewhat of a let down that a Horror film with such potential settles to be a simple (and rather poorly executed) disaster movie. The effects are well produced and some of the cast give good performances (Italia Ricci in particular) but the characters are often thinly sketched and the script has jarring moments of leaden dialogue “is that a bible?”, “Where are they going”, etc. The Remaining is a film that could have done something engaging with its concept and yet it ends up as a forgettable and somewhat preachy offering. Not to mention the fact it cannot make up its mind between being a found footage film and narrative film.
Many will likely find a better look at the rapture, albeit in far different tone, in Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen’s flawed Comedy This is the End. That said, The Remaining does have some tense moments (a rush to the car to pick up medication, the opening moments of the apocalypse) but it never seems to summarise its story with an interesting angle. In many ways, the film could have ended with the words “told ya so” and it would have basically had the same overall effect. So if you are looking for a modern horror film tackling religion interestingly seek out last year’s The Borderlands or if you are wanting a film that more adeptly tackles humanity faced with the possible end of the earth seek out the ridiculously underrated The Mist because sadly The Remaining has a good set up but little to no capitalisation on it. Thou deserves better.
DVD Extras: Making Of and Deleted Scene