THEY REMAIN Review: Sometimes Silence Is Anything But Golden
Starring Rebecca Henderson, William Jackson Harper
Directed by Philip Gelatt
If you’re one of those ardent horror movie fans who desperately craves the need for wall-to-wall action with your frights, then I’d be remiss if I told you that Philip Gelatt’s latest film They Remain isn’t as such – instead it’s one of those movies that will test your ability to keep calm. Look at it like a trip to the DMV: the wait is timely and can be maddening, but the end result is usually beneficial (sometimes, that is.)
The film centers inside a remote research station, set way out in the sticks – I’m talkin’ WAY out, and the unfortunate events of years ago only act as a coupling agent to scare the bejeezus out of any soul brought in to work there. You see, a while back there was a mass-murder event in the area committed by a group not unlike ol’ Uncle Charlie Manson and his followers. After that shit-show wrapped up it seems like all of the animal, mineral and vegetable activity started ceasing, and that’s where our two corporately-funded scientists come into play. Jessica (Henderson) and Keith (Harper) are the two assigned to the area. The two aren’t conducting their assigned testing in the area for too long before some very odd circumstances begin to take place – strange noises, weird dreams or run-ins with stray dogs…wait a minute, I thought there wasn’t any animal activity in this joint?
Bottle all that up with your usual bouts of infighting, paranoiac activity and an insane sense of containment (even in this spacious forest the feeling of claustrophobia is sickening), and you’ve got the recipe for a very unsafe working environment – wonder if these two are reeling in hazard pay? The implied notion of “what’s over my shoulder?” is the driving force behind this movie’s engine, and while the heavy physical presence is invisible, it’s the sense of doom that’ll work up those little neck hairs of yours. While the tension does build up in certain spots, I couldn’t help but think that the runtime was a bit hefty, and while 100 minutes might seem generally quick in essence, you can only have so many quiet shots of someone looking around a desolate forest – after a while the predominant spooky-factor could begin to wane for some as they’ll be checking the clock on the wall – it’s not a damning factor by any stretch, but it does make for an entertaining watch, and the chemistry between our two main characters works as a progressive factor too. In the end of everything, They Remain will do just enough to creep some folks out, that I can assure you, and if you’re one of those souls who believe there’s something sinister in every corner of the globe, then you’ll ultimately dig this. Hell, even if you like your horror at breakneck speed this is one that should be eyeballed at lest one time late at night with the lights off and surround sound on HIGH – give it a look when it slinks towards you.
Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with pumping the brakes on a horror film and letting the ambiance act as a scare factor.