Title: The Remaining
Starring: Alexa Vega, Shaun Sipos, Johnny Pascar, Italia Ricci, Bryan Dechart
Director: Casey La Scala
Released: 16th March 2015
Runtime: 84 minutes
In recent years there has been a number of rapture related films including Nicolas Cage’s Left Behind, Seth Rogen’s This is The End and Anna Kendrick’s Rapture-Palooza. All of these films had big budgets and star names attached. Can The Remaining really compete with these big name films with a small budget and a virtually unknown cast of young actors? Surprisingly, perhaps, the answer is: yes. And that answer is partly because of the other films mentioned none have really been a huge hit. Despite the star names they failed to connect with their audiences. This is the End simply wasn’t especially funny. Rapture-Palooza was, at times, crude and offensive and Left Behind was too narrow with most of the action set onboard an aircraft.
Hollywood seems to have a real thing at the moment for religious based rapture films. The rapture is as big as zombies or vampires. The rapture is a religious event that is said to take place when God takes his believers to Heaven leaving everyone else on Earth to face cataclysmic events as Earth in fact becomes Hell on Earth. The Devil has dominion over the Earth and all non-believers are left to face a life of horror.
The Remaining is a supernatural thriller which starts in a very normal way. A group of friends are attending a wedding. Everyone is beautiful and in love. But then the rapture occurs and a series of cataclysmic events follow forcing the group to fight for their own survival. Life choices including love, faith and friendship are all re-examined as the group one by one decide whether they choose a life of faith or a life of fighting for survival on Earth that is now as less than desirable place to be.
The reason why The Remaining succeeds as a film, where perhaps other rapture based films have failed is that it keeps a tight focus on its main group of characters and the performances from the group are fairly strong. Alexa Vega (Sin City) stands out.
Casey La Scala’s direction is impressive, using both hand-held camera work - by the characters themselves - to document the events first hand. Normally I find this jarring and occasionally vomit-inducing as hand-held camera work tends to be jerky but here is is used just sparingly enough to make it work to the advantage of the film overall.
Elements of the supernatural, religion and horror are all mixed together nicely to produce a film that is surprisingly effective, despite a young, inexperienced cast. The clearly limited budget works to the advantage of the film. Rather than the usual reliance on special effects and lots of different locations and sets the action is kept squarely focussed on its characters which brings their performances to the forefront of the film.