With the massive success of The Walking Dead it is no surprise to see another comic book adaption rear it’s roting skull. In 2004 Steve Niles created a five issue comic series called Remains. Most non comic book folks will not recognize Niles until you mention the 30 Days of Night franchise which he also created.
Fast forward to 2011 and it seems Remains is set for the same screen treatment as Niles last successful series. This feature began as a TV movie and saw a jump to full DVD release. A risky move like this can pay off big time or fall faster than a dress on prom night.
In this case, flat seems to be course of choice.
So we open in Reno, Nevada at a casino that has seen better days. Everything is pretty dated and even the staff looks like a worn set of chaps. At the same time there is a national peace treaty about to take place and remove all of the US’s nuclear weapons. Two of our top notch employees decide a little cocaine fueled romp in the super secure storage room would be a great way to spend break. As Tom (Grant Bowler) and Tori (Evalena Marie) are getting down there seems to be a massive explosion and power is lost.
Eventually we see Tom and Tori escape only to come across a second rate magician by the name of Jensen (Miko Hughes). The casino seems to be vacated with the exception of those darn flesh eating zombies. As the group moves through the casino another survivor named Victor (Anthony Marks) joins up after using another man as bait to escape his own untimely death.
The story goes pretty standard here and becomes a game of survival and escape as the group realizes all hope is lost, or is it? Remains does a good job with what is obviously a limited budget. At times I had a hard time trying to figure out what this movie wanted to be. A slow zombie flick or the fast paced 28 Days Later type of zombie flick.
The acting is pretty bad but I think most will discover that quite early on. Personally I have given up on quality acting in most direct to video zombie flicks. I come for the make-up and effects. A little innovation never hurts either.
Kudos go to the crew here for trying to do something a little different with our decaying friends. The zombies in this feature require things like sleep and also have the ability to urinate and defecate. Thank god the later is never shown and only alluded to in dialog. The need to sleep led to a decent scene where the survivors are required to sneak through a group of oh so tired dead things. Who would have thought hunting flesh would make you so sleepy? Keep in mind these suckers sleep like cattle, standing up and awake in a moments notice.
These zombies also have no moral quandaries about feeding on each other or the living. Plenty of them even begin to eat themselves when the hunger overtakes them. Always nice to see some new ideas tossed in to freshen up what has become a pretty watered down genre.
There is a lot of CGI in this monster which always turns my stomach a bit. I get the need to use CGI when you look at budget and time constraints but for god’s sake please at least try and make it look somewhat real or even passable. There is a car crash later in the movie that is so CGI bad it is not even funny. Have no fear because there will be more than a handful of times where CGI kicks the viewer square between the legs.
The make-up somewhat helps to soften the blow of the ass horrible CGI throughout the feature. Most of the zombies look decent and some of the body part ripping and eating are believable.
It is almost like you can see where the budget cuts were made in this film. I look directly to a scene where Tom and Tori must jump from a window quite a ways up down to a swimming pool. So the jump happens and the camera automatically cuts to the pool where we landed. Where the hell was the actual jump? Could we not afford it or get someone on set drunk enough to give it a shot? Either way it cheapened what was already seeming pretty thin at this point in the movie.
Earlier I had knocked the acting because really these people are as memorable as the Kleenex I used yesterday. This was until we saw a little plot twist the way of Ramsey (Lance Reddick) and his soldiers arriving to “save the day”. This guy can actually breathe a little life into the acting of Remains and maybe make the second half worth watching.
Things get a little zany here as Ramsey and his daughter Cindy (Tawny Cypress) take over with the help of their troops. Suffice to say that these folks do not have the survivors best interests in mind. We see one of the survivors killed at the hands of the soldiers and another just disappears altogether with no rhyme or reason.
So the soldiers pull an obvious “smash and grab” leaving Tom and Tori with no supplies and an ass load of zombies. This is the part where I expected to see these two really shine in the acting department. But wait, we have another twist as it is now, Cindy and Tom. So why did we put all that work into Tom and Tori? I am hella confused right now. No worries, the acting never picked up and these two stayed as memorable as the other yahoos who are no longer with us.
I am not going to wreck the finale and ending for the 4 people still reading this and looking forward to Remains. Let’s just say everything is pushed aside to ramp up the action and if anything it ends hilariously for some.
Some fresh zombie ideas
Based on a good comic series
Weak and confusing character development
Damn CGI crap
Obviously limited budget
This movie is a recommend if you have watched all the good movies on Netflix streaming already. A few fresh ideas here and there but in the end this will leave a little egg on the face of a killer comic series.