Director: Philip Gelatt.
Starring. William Jackson Harper, Rebecca Henderson USA. 1h 42m.
Based on: They Remain by Laird Barron.
Exploration is the focus of this psychological sci fi thriller, but the execution is as conflicting as the main characters grasp on reality and eventually the slow burning just fizzles out after several meandering mistakes which were supposed to build tension. They Remain explores a relationship of two scientists , Keith (Harper) and Jessica (Henderson) who are employed to investigate an area which was once a camp for a mysterious cult. It’s not very clear what they are doing for a long stretch of the movie, the two seem to have bizarre conversations while looking at camera feeds and “researching”, apparently sent by a mysterious corporation identifies by it’s geometric corporate logo and no more.
Set in a beautiful eden, the duo of hipster scientist set up a high tech camp. which is in total contrast the lush greenery around them. At times Keith and Jessica come off as a romantic couple while switching the emotions on and off to remain professional. Each day they venture out to look for “evidence” of the Manson Family style cult who once called the area their home. and the end of the day they discuss the results but slowly Keith starts experiencing blackouts and hallucinations which really affect his interactions with Jessica.
This pretentious thriller struggles to maintain its narrative, every now and again I felt that it was starting to make sense and was beginning to go somewhere but then it just dissolves into an incoherent mess. The moody suspense and drama is very present in the second half of the movie but by then I really didn’t care, I felt no connection with either of the cast, they seemed to be speaking another language. Maybe I went into it expecting something very different, it was advertised as supernatural horror, the long dead cult members affecting two modern techies who are researching the site, and it’s all there but it’s just not very apparent.
The onslaught of murky symbolism and brain fogging confusion wasn’t just for the cast, I felt it too, but strangely kept watching to see if there was going to be some payoff, the spooky musical score and striking visuals were just enough to keep me going but if you feel that the film is going nowhere, I’d say bail immediately, the flat monotone in which the film is presented only lessens its impact, without the clever cinematography from Sean Kirby who snaps the viewer back to reality now and again the film would be laughable.
R – The Veil (2016)
L – Cults on Film