August 5, 2012

Filthy Review - 'Steve Niles' Remains'

Steve Niles’ Remains (2011)

Review by Jude Felton

Although I have not read the graphic novel upon which this movie is adapted from, I was nonetheless quite looking forward to it. The reason for this being that I thoroughly enjoyed Niles’ 30 Days of Night, in both film and graphic novel form, and I was sincerely hoping that this might offer up something new to the zombie sub-genre. It didn’t even have to be anything groundbreaking; sometimes the simple things work just as well. Sticking vampires in Alaska, during the winter, was a stroke of genius. Zombies in Reno, Nevada on the other hand, are not so interesting.

So, the premise of Remains is this; after a nuclear explosion wipes out most of the population, turning them into zombies, the few survivors hole up in Reno. Could be ok, except that they chose the shittiest looking casino I have ever seen. Anyway, this is pretty much the entire movie; Dawn of the Dead in a casino, the obligatory aggressive faction the survivors encounter, zombies that progressively more intelligent and a group of survivors that annoy from the offset.

The zombie sub-genre is not rocket science; there is no excuse for a zombie flick to be boring, even if it is not particularly original. It was only recently that I watched Dead Season, which itself brought nothing new to the table yet managed to be a fun and violent movie. So, what went wrong here? Was it the expectation level? No, I’ve learnt to take each zombie movie as it comes, regardless of names attached.

In all honesty I think it was just poor execution in pretty much all departments. The film was made by, and subsequently screened on, the Chiller TV channel and it comes across as just that; a made for TV zombie flick. I’ll give the folks that make these flicks a clue though; before you worry about how cool your zombies look and how splattery your gore is, you need just one simple thing, and that is a core group of characters that you care about. If I don’t care about them when they are alive, why should I care if they die?

Just take a look at The Walking Dead, show or book, and you have a story that is full of characters you not only like, but you genuinely care about. Sure, the show ambles along at times, but they never take you away from what is important, and that is the humans. You can throw zombies at me all day long, but I won’t give a damn if you don’t give me a half-decent human story behind it.

Here lies Remains biggest problem, and that is that the main cast are not just horrible, but they are boring and constantly whine. Sure, there are some great zombies, the gore is decent and the core of the story was fairly interesting, but aside from that the hook, the bait that draws us in, was already dead in the desert.

On the plus side, and there is a plus side, Shout! Factory have delivered a pretty good package for this film. The picture and sound are decent, if not spectacular, and the accompanying cover art is very nice indeed. They have also included an Audio Commentary, Remains: Road to Reno (which is a short film prequel), as well as some bloopers, TV Spots and trailers.

Overall, what you have here is a very average film that the less demanding fan might enjoy, but on the whole it offers up nothing new, or that interesting, all packaged with great looking artwork. Disappointing.

Steve Niles' Remains is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Shout! Factory on August 7th.

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