Review: The Remaining (2014)

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The Remaining is a disaster film/end-of-the-world thriller directed by Casey La Scala (Grind). La Scala has a history in film as being a producer, with works like What A Girl Wants and Donnie Darko under his belt. He tried his hand at directing in 2003 with Grind, and came back for a second shot at it with The Remaining which he co-wrote with Chris Downing. It is about a group of close friends who get together for the wedding of Skylar (Alexa Vega) and Dan (Bryan Dechart), when suddenly the celebration is interrupted as Skylar’s parents are raptured, starting a chain of apocalyptic events. The group must find shelter as the cataclysmic events unfold and they are subject to extreme weather and winged demons who are keen to take them as prey. The group take shelter in the local church with other locals where they begin to re-examine their lives, love, personal belief and faith in Jesus Christ as they experience the seven years of Tribulation and find that they must choose between faith and survival.

Honestly, I don’t know where to start with this film. After reading the synopsis I had fairly high hopes, apocalyptic films are so good to watch when they are done well and I thought this one could do the job, too. I put the film on, ready for a good experience and some good action to get my heart beating and my nails digging into my palms as I watch the characters struggle for survival. The film starts at a wedding and you watch through the lens of Tommy (Johnny Pacar) who is filming the events of the wedding between his friends Skylar and Dan. There are some jokes and laughs and not long into it things turn bad whilst he’s filming the bride’s parents in an elevator and they drop dead. Exiting the elevator he finds that numerous other guests of the wedding have are also lying lifeless with their eyes (comically in my opinion) wide open and the remaining guests who are alive in a wild panic. Strange things are happening and the three, along with their friend Jack (Shaun Sipos) go in search of Jack’s girlfriend Allison (Italia Ricci) who had earlier left the reception after an argument with her boyfriend.

The four leave the wedding reception, outside the sky is dark and it starts hailing huge chunks of ice causing the group to panic and head for shelter at the local library. Skylar is determined that the events unfolding are the Rapture and sets about looking for the Bible for proof. Whilst there a girl named Sam (Liz E. Morgan) introduces herself and imposes herself on the group, sticking with them from this point on. They eventually decide to move on with a reluctant Skylar to pursue Allison and after some debating head for the nearby church where they find her. Skylar had been hurt along the way and required help from the survivors inside the church and whilst staying here the group begin to disclose their secrets to each other. Skylar’s injuries do not seem to be healing with the antibiotics she was given and the group eventually decide to wait until morning before heading to the local hospital in search of a doctor or something more to help her, but the rapture isn’t over yet.

I must admit, I lost track of the story at this point. After I had watched about ten minutes of this film I was already regretting it, it was hard to even want to watch. The director/writers did a really bad job of introducing the characters and because of this I had no real interest in them. I know it’s hard to introduce the characters and make them instantly likeable, though, so I waited to see if there was some improvement on them, to see if they had any real depth. The more I watched the less I cared about them, not only did they lack any depth, they were cardboard characters that have been seen before and done much better in other movies. They were unable to evoke any emotion in me whatsoever, and although the actors tried really hard at being emotional and give it their all in the midst of this (so-called) horrific time, I could honestly care less because the characters are that bland that I don’t think it would have made much of a difference if there wasn’t any main cast at all.

It’s not all down to the actors, though, they have to work with the script they are given and this one was terrible. I’ve seen and liked biblical themed apocalyptic films (Dogma, This Is The End) and those were miles better than this sap of a movie. Yes, those are comedies and are completely different but comparably, the characters were at least entertaining in those and they had a fairly decent plot that you had a vague interest in following. This one? No. The plot, a group of people who at least in part identify with being religious deal with a so-called rapture and whilst dealing with this some really boring and cliché secrets are uncovered and there is even a flimsy, obvious love-triangle that even Twilight managed to do better. They try to figure out what is going on and why it is happening when they come to an ‘enlightening’ understanding of what is happening and how to survive when they realise, and this is a spoiler, that they have to choose between God and their faith or surviving… and all die. So you can guess what they chose. I suppose that in itself was supposed to evoke some feeling in me but it left me with nothing. Maybe I’m heartless, but I’m guessing it’s just the terrible movie.

On top of that, I didn’t even like the direction or the cinematography and the CGI was not great. The filming was flat, the lighting was terrible. The angles they chose to shoot in weren’t used to their full potential, it felt amateurish at best. Although, I suppose some of this could be down to the fact that the director had wondered what it would be like to do a ‘…global Paranormal Activity’ and had tried to achieve that with this film, it did not work. It felt like a badly made fan version of a Paranormal Activity type film and maybe it just doesn’t work on the large scale and that’s why it was so bad. Or maybe it could be incredible if done by someone else. I expected so much of this film. If it’s supposed to be biblically accurate and replicate the rapture then the film should feel epic on a large scale. It should be grandeur and cinematically beautiful, and fair enough it is a small budget film so that’s asking a lot for it but then maybe it shouldn’t have been made in that case.

Overall, would I recommend this film? No. If anything, I’d recommend people avoid it. There are far better apocalyptic films out there, so pick from one of those and enjoy yourself. Don’t waste over an hour-and-a-half of your life watching this one. Even I couldn’t fully commit, busying myself with other things whilst watching it.

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