DIRECTOR Casey La Scala WRITER Casey La Scala; Chris Dowling STARS Johnny Pacar; Shaun Sipos; Bryan Dechart CINEMA 7 November
It’s surprising that so few movies have tackled the themes of Armageddon and the biblical end of days; it’s tailor-made for grand Hollywood treatment, with a story that has already written itself. Perhaps the unavoidable religious elements and the ease of slipping into cliché and preaching is what keeps major filmmakers away.
Director Casey La Scala has created an odd mix of genres with The Remaining: part disaster; part horror-thriller; and way too much melodrama. This is also firmly Christian-based entertainment, and will appeal more to those with faith than non-believers. That aside, it’s hard to become invested in either the plot or the thinly sketched characters, as the Rapture here follows a group of twenty-somethings who are attending a wedding when Judgement Day strikes. Those around them who have made the cut have their souls ripped from their bodies for a heavenly journey, leaving an abundance of corpses in the streets. Those left behind make a frantic rush for safety at a nearby church while trying to avoid the winged demons and other horrors that have been unleashed on Earth.
The Remaining generates initial suspense through a solid set-up and by gradually picking off a collection of increasingly desperate characters — a standard horror staple — but quickly runs out of ideas, lapsing into a second half that features long monologues about what has happened and why, and the answers given are less than subtle. “I went to church and did everything right,” one character whines. There’s nothing wrong with putting out a message, but here some of the reasons for non-Rapture are ludicrous (premarital sex and dancing to hip-hop are but two). Much of the unabashed sermonising is handled badly by a weak cast working with a poor script, and unintentional laughs are abound. This is a shame, because La Scala works some impressive effects and visuals on a tight budget, the demons and sound design are effective, and a good story can be told here. It just needs a better approach that will appeal to more than a niche audience.