Two scientists who share a romantic history are tasked with investigating unnatural animal behaviour on the site of a Manson Family-style cult's compound.
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May 29, 2018 at 10:50 PM
Unnerving and unsettling
I don't think I've seen a film quite like this one. The best way I can describe it is it's like Mulholland Drive meets Alien. It's a psychological meditation about the horrors that lay dormant just below the surface of modern civilization.
If you like avant garde film and are intellectually curious, this is well worth the watch.
Speculative, Weird and usettling
I can see why some people don't like this movie. It takes work, it demands your attention and makes nothing easy. You can't check your phone while watching this, you've got to let yourself just be with it. It's quiet and not "scary" but it is unsettling. What the hell is going on here? Is this science fiction, is it contemporary? The film is self-consciously oblique which I enjoyed; I enjoyed trying to fill in the blanks and I've enjoyed the moments when it has popped back in my head that maybe this is what something or other meant. This is one that you will have to decide for yourself; don't let anyone tell you you will or won't enjoy it, but if you like the Speculative and Weird, you should see this and make up your own mind!
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Green has never been so foreboding.
They Remain is a lean and mean movie. As a lover of cosmic/weird horror I tend to like stories that bring no easy answers and create scenarios that force the viewer to work a little and play detective. The film stays very true to the original story "30" by Laird Barron and most of the dialogue came straight from the text. Both the novella and the film live in that strange sub genre of small groups of people in remote areas freaking out. Films like "Picnic at Hanging Rock" and "Long Weekend" come instantly to mind in vibe for me. From the opening scene, there is a decidedly uncomfortable tension between the two characters. And having only an awkward coworker who you don't trust as your sole confident makes for a tense little slice of sci-fi/ horror. The real star of the film is the camera work, there is so much nature in this film, verdant, green and often swallowing up the actors in it. The film makes the mundane hostile, the lush greenery and daylight as oppressive as anything shot at night. The pace of the film is slow and dreamy and the score really helps create a strange un-reality. These scientists go into this assignment not sure what they are researching exactly and in doing so become the experiment. We as viewers are not privy to the corporate higher ups (or ancient evils, or cults, or who knows) that have poisoned this land and we, at the end, are left to decide for ourselves. Is the cult still active? Is the land haunted? Is there an evil giant goat looking for its sex horn? Or something else entirely? Gelatt takes the hard roads on this one, allowing characters to be unlikeable and hard to know and leaving few safe spaces for the wayward viewer. But like The VVITCH and The Blackcoat's Daughter last year and Annihilation this year, there is definitely an appetite in the horror/sci fi community for the stranger and more subtle stories within the genre. And I think They Remain succeeds on that front. Worth the watch and the thoughtfulness afterwards.