Movie Review: 'The Remaining'

‘The Remaining’ is a 2014 supernatural thriller that snuck underneath the radar in a limited US theatrical release. That obscurity should change as ‘The Remaining’ is a unique apocalyptic movie that deserves to find its audience on DVD and streaming services.

Set against the backdrop of a wedding ceremony, ‘The Remaining’ wisely focuses its early narrative on the long-standing friendships and relationships of a group of closely-knit twenty-somethings. Taking us along for the apocalyptic ride (and caring about the outcome) certainly wouldn’t have been as effective without the well-cast group of mostly unknown young actors.

During the wedding reception of Skylar (Alexa Vega-the ‘Spy Kids’ franchise) and Dan (Bryan Dechart) a large number of guests collapse to the ground lifelessly. As videographer Tommy (Johnny Pacar), Dan’s best man Jack (Shaun Sipos), and others soon realize, the shock of what’s happening is only the beginning of what has begun to unfold across the globe.

‘The Remaining’ includes an aspect of the horror, sci-fi, and thriller genres which is rarely explored…the spiritual beliefs of its protagonists.

Where ‘The Remaining’ certainly includes some plot lines and imagery that are straight out of the Book of Revelations, it manages to do so without feeling preachy or judgmental and does a fine job of creating some high-tension suspense and a few surprising chills.

With the increasing popularity of Christian-themed movies and TV shows, it seems logical that director Casey La Scala (Exec Producer of ‘Donnie Darko’ and the upcoming ‘Amityville: The Awakening’) got his script for ‘The Remaining’ greenlit for production.

What I found genuinely surprising about ‘The Remaining’ was that, supported by a likable cast and solid production values, a filmmaker would risk the challenges of bringing such a potentially audience-polarizing tale to life.

‘The Remaining’ is an entertaining film, and the 88 minute run-time is well suited for a film that raises some interesting questions about faith and spirituality. Where it succeeds is in not attempting to provide easy answers or conflict resolutions that would neatly fit into a dogmatic agenda.

‘The Remaining’ turned out to be darker and more entertaining than I expected. My own preconceived notions of a “Christian-themed thriller” were resoundingly discarded as I found myself intrigued by the progression of the story and creeped out by some of the imagery used in the film.

Several scenes using first-person camerawork blended well with the more traditionally staged images throughout the film. While I am not a fan of the “found footage” perspective, ‘The Remaining’ occassionally uses the technique to good effect as it compliments elements of the storyline (rather than being a gimmicky attempt to generate cheap thrills.)

Sparingly used, but effective special effects also compliment La Scala’s direction. Leaving more to the imagination can be more powerful than the in-your-face style, and proves to be a wise choice with ‘The Remaining.’ When some vividly created scenes do erupt within the film, they are done so with detailed creativity and rendered more powerfully upon the audience.

‘The Remaining’ is a more thoughtful and entertaining effort than many of the recent genre efforts that I have screened recently. If supernatural thrillers are your taste, ‘The Remaining’ fits the bill nicely.

Flixnerd Rating: ★★★☆☆ “Indie-budgeted Apocalypse delivers the goods.”

‘The Remaining’ on Amazon.com

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