Currently Watching: THEY REMAIN (2018) courtesy Kanopy Streaming Channel

They Remain (2018)

A few minutes in, and I’m— engrossed. I like how it is shot. I like how the camera moves. I like its economy of storytelling, of a mystery that both slowly reveals and slowly deepens. I like the beauty of its frame.

Fast-forward 90 minutes or so, and I have completed the film. Which is more than I do with most films these days, but this one kept my attention till the scrolling of credits. Credit that to strong performances and real chemistry between the leads, real heat, and a suitably gripping mystery. That said I don’t think the mystery was satisfactorily explored. I do not like films that are too esoteric, or that too much rely on a back story or a source material, that they don’t translate to the film. And yes, I get cosmic horror is about the unknowable, but the successful works, whether literary or cinematic, couches that in a framework that is ultimately to a large extent satisfying and mystery encountering.

Ultimately if you need to read the source material to get the film, it has to some extent failed as a film.

That said I was still intrigued up to the very obscure ending, but it is not a film I am likely to go back to, because of that ending. It feels incomplete and unsatisfying. So because of that I have a hard time recommending the film, but I would reiterate that up to that non-ending, this is a film of Bressonnian expectation and unease in nearly every frame. It is worth experiencing just for that atmosphere it creates, and the performances.

Grade: I’m glad I saw it. I’m not crazy about the obscure non-ending. But chop off that ending and it is a lot of wonderful and compelling film-making going on here. You have to make up your own mind it that is something that sounds worth your time and energy.


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