A patience-testing trip in the woods.
Synopsis: Two scientists who share a romantic history are tasked with investigating unnatural animal behavior on the site of a Manson Family-style cult’s compound. (IMDB)
Starring: William Jackson Harper and Rebecca Henderson
Writer: Philip Gelatt
Director: Philip Gelatt
Running Time: 101mins
For showtimes and more, check out They Remain on movietimes.com.
Many horror films have been described as slow burns where stories built gradually until a thrilling conclusion. This was more or less the case here but the main problem with the film was that it was boring to watch throughout. Once the plot finally ratcheted up, it was too little too late though it didn’t do itself any favors. The story did not make much sense on its own, throwing us and its only two characters in a situation with no explanation whatsoever and it just got worse from there. The more and more nothing happened in the film, the easier it became to disengage from the story and the characters.
The only two characters were a pair of scientists named Keith (Harper) and Jessica (Henderson) who were in a forest investigating animal behavior on the site of a cult. It was never clear what they were doing as the story failed to make a connection between the animal behavior and the cult, if there was ever supposed to be one. Because of this, most of the events that followed didn’t make much sense which took away from their intended impact, especially when characters would go on tangents which were either dreams, hallucinations, and/or flashforwards (it was never clear what they were).
In addition to the lack of plot and underdeveloped characters, the plot was predictable, taking one familiar turn after another. The outcome was inevitable to anyone who has ever seen these types of films before but just like the rest of the story, it made no sense either since it came out of nowhere because of the story’s lack of buildup. Also, the story’s intention was obviously to have some sort of deeper meaning but most viewers will simply tune out before it will ever get deciphered. There was just too many unanswered questions here that never got answered.
The best part of the film was the performances from Harper and Henderson as Keith and Jessica respectively. They did a decent job at carrying the film while doing their best with what little they had. Despite the mess of a story, they were always compelling to watch. What also helped was the great cinematography and score which at least set the mood nicely but it was just hard to care about anything.
Overall, this was a slow-moving mess of a film with a nonsensical story with thin characters whose production values and lead performances almost make it worth the watch although diehard horror fans may something to enjoy.
*They Remain will be released on VOD starting Tuesday May 29th, 2018*