The Remains full movie review - A Fun Romp into some Old School Atmosphere
Thomas Della Bella brings us this film length extension of his short film Open House. Sadly I was unable to find any copies of Open House so I cannot go into much detail on the short, but I can see the vision that went into The Remains.
For his first feature length venture, Della Bella truly delivers. We are given an impressive juggling of drama, tension and thrills throughout the 85 minute film and exposed to some familiar thriller/ horror genre traits. We hear the atmospheric sounds, we see the moving of the doorknob slowly, we quiver slightly with anticipation as each scene builds, and we muse over the development of the back story. All of these are clearly old school techniques and normal expected executions (within a horror film), but rarely do we see them executed so well in modern films ( with exceptions of the likes of The Witch and Crimson Peak). Della Bella uses the familiar, to breed the fear in his viewers. He draws them in using the scenes with the children and their father and then sets up the perfect spiral into the dark world they're inhabiting. So many elements in this film, become characters in their own right. The huge creepy dollhouse, that breeds an unease from its dark space at the end of the hallway. The occult photographs, that urge us to question the interactions with spirits in the home in other times. And the ugly old doll, that projects a sense of dread whenever we see little Victoria holding it. With a blending of atmosphere, reminiscent of a hint of Guillermo Del Toro, and some simple but well executed moments, that remind us of the work of James Wan and Leigh Whannell, I think Della Bella has left his imprint firmly in the horror world. Personally I can't wait to see what follows this and observe his growth as both a writer and director. The casting in The Remains is well selected. Todd Lowe plays our grieving father John (best known as Terry Bellefleur in TV's True Blood). He is saddened, heartbroken, vulnerable and weakened by recent months. We know hes barely able to process his sorrow for his wife, we see it each time he has to talk to someone else and explain what has happened. Yet it is also apparent that his children are now his life! He will protect them from anything and proves such on screen sublimely. Brooke Butler (from All Cheerleaders Die and The Sand) is Izzy, the hellbent on rebelling eldest daughter and wayward teen. We feel annoyed at her at times, but understand she is grieving differently and acting out to mask her own pain. The younger two children are Victoria (played by Hannah Nordberg - best known as Josslyn Jacks on General Hospital) and Aiden (played by Dash Williams - who has appeared as many characters on Jimmy Kimmel). Both children have the regular childlike moments (teasing each other, being playful and just acting like themselves) and the possessed creepy side down well. The blank stares, the hollow looks, the ghastly emptiness. I was taken in by their performances. As I read some of the (now I know unfair) IMDb reviews on this film, I admit I was truly skeptical about watching it. However I have never let anyone elses thoughts dictate my viewings and went with my gut instincts and I will definitely be hunting this down on DVD when I can. Great work all!