THE REMAINING (2014)
Directed by Casey La Scala
A group of close friends gather for a wedding but their joyous celebration is disrupted when all of the children and a selection of adults die before their very eyes. The crisis is quickly followed by a series of apocalyptic events, which were foretold in the New Testament of the Bible. The survivors remaining on Earth must consider their choices and beliefs in a world fast becoming a living hell.
Thriller THE REMAINING combines a religious prophecy with horror elements to create a doomed future for mankind. If you’ve seen the recent movie Left Behind, which deals with Rapture (where God takes the believers up to heaven whilst non-believers must suffer Tribulation on Earth), then THE REMAINING acts like a continuation of those events even though the two films are not related.
Focusing on a group of five friends, who appear to have known each other from school, the viewer invests in the characters and their tight knit relationship with one another. Two of the friends, Dan (Bryan Dechart) and Skylar (Spy Kids‘ Alexa Vega), are finally getting married and are looking forward to a beautiful future together. Their elegant wedding is a dream come true with everything going to plan, that is, until the reception when the world is suddenly hit by the cataclysmic events that threaten their very survival. With hail and fire raining down from the sky, it’s not just natural disasters they need to find shelter from but also from winged beasts who have a taste for human flesh and are ready to swoop down at any given moment.
Utilising found-footage style shaky cam with standard static third person shots, the film delivers a personal experience from those in the middle of the madness whilst giving an overall view of how the world has begun to fall apart for everyone that’s on it, not just for these group of friends. Most of the time is spent with Tommy (Johnny Pacar), who has a secret crush on his best friend’s girlfriend. He keeps his feelings to himself and without fail, is always prepared to help his friends, even in life-threatening situations.
Though the cast do a great job with their performances, I couldn’t help but feel the film lacks in the plot and character depth department. Though the idea of rapture and tribulation is pretty thrilling, the threat waiting for them outside didn’t feel as dangerous as it should have done. Part of that is down to the CGI, but also the fact we don’t see much of the action up-close and personal. The threat always seems a distance away, enough for the characters to appear safe or out of harms way, which in turn makes the viewer feel unthreatened. When the action happens in front of your very eyes, that’s when your heart is in your mouth. As for the characters, after the initial wedding scene they suddenly become quite empty, lacking both charisma and identity. Even after one of the characters is mad with another, the anger lasts all of a few seconds before it’s all forgotten, leaving the characters pretty shallow in terms of emotion and persona.
As an overall movie, THE REMAINING works rather well with some interesting ideas. They’re not as well executed as I’d have hoped for a horror thriller, lacking tension and terrifying scenes, but it makes a watchable survival thriller for fans of apocalyptic and disaster movies.