Review: THEY REMAIN (2017)

An isolated clearing in the forest. Formerly the home to a Manson like cult until they turned on themselves in a bloody massacre. However, as the researchers for a mysterious corporation soon find out that before the cult, there were others that dwelt there. And, as the title of Philip Gelatt’s (THE BLEEDING HOUSE, The Spine of the Night) new film states, THEY REMAIN.

Based on the short story “–30–” by Laird Barron, THEY REMAIN is the story of two corporate researchers, Keith (William Jackson Harper) and Jessica (Rebecca Henderson) assigned to figure out what is causing animals to act strangely in this location. They’ve worked together before and been partners of a more personal variety as well, and it shows in their reactions to each other.

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Plagued by hallucinations and strange occurrences almost from the start, the already strained relationship between them devolves. Amidst the revelation of an earlier mass killing on the site and the discovery of a strange artifact of more recent vintage, paranoia and violence begin to rear their heads again.

Gellat wrote the script for EUROPA REPORT, and early scenes of Keith setting up an assortment of cameras had me thinking this was going down the same found footage path. Thankfully it doesn’t, but the camera footage does play an important part in the film. I found myself backing the film up to re-watch the footage more than once to be sure I’d seen what I thought I saw.

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THEY REMAIN is a low-key film, and you’ll have to pay attention to pick up important details. There are few effects and apart from a brief appearance by a couple of weasels from head office, only two characters appear on-screen. Gellat makes great use of cinematography by Sean Kirby (ZOO) and the score to indicate the growing menace. Coupled with excellent performances from Harper and Henderson, it results in a slow burn of a film filled with mounting tension.

Beginning with a quote from H.P. Lovecraft “Wise men have interpreted dreams, and the Gods have laughed” and ending with a chilling and ambiguous question THEY REMAIN is one for fans of subtle horror. Those that can give it proper attention will be well rewarded.

Giant Interactive will release THEY REMAIN to VOD and DVD on May 29 in the US and Canada.

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