Two scientists investigate the root of environmental changes and strange animal behavior at a remote site where a cult committed atrocities. The isolated location, the unraveling of their relationship, and the biome itself begin to lead them down a path of doom where primeval forces threaten to consume them. An adaptation of Laird Barron's short story "–30–".
|Release Date||:||March 2, 2018|
|Genres||:||Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller|
|Writers||:||Laird Barron, Philip Gelatt|
|Casts||:||William Jackson Harper, Rebecca Henderson|
Compelling performances, often-gorgeous cinematography, and a persistent sense of unease and alien eroticism, make for a hypnotic Horror film that opens itself up for you get lost in its rich textures and existential dread. Think 'Picnic at Hanging Rock,' but with a touch more paganism. It's pretty great.
They Remain is, to my knowledge, the first cinematic adaptation of a Laird Barron story (this one being rooted in -30- from the Occultation short story collection), and it does a wonderful job of evoking the unsettling world-behind-the-world that is the persistent undercurrent of Barron's work. Readers of story might note that the setting has moved from a California desert to a chilly forest - a move I think really works to the film's advantage, letting the internal confusion of the characters manifest externally, and - importantly - providing an environment that feels ancient and alive, brimming with cycles of life and death, decomposition and rebirth. For me, at least, it gives it much more of a 'folk horror' atmosphere that I really connected with.
Separating this film from other works adjacent to this stripe of dream-inflected natural Horror is the strong work by the two lead actors. They largely carry, and solidify, the narrative by skirting between both alienation and dependence, keeping the audience enthralled in the acrimony bubbling under the surface within the tight confines of the field research lab, as the ebb and flow of needing a home to come back to conflicts with the compulsion to taste the reckless freedom of just being lost in nature, and the price that is paid for both.
It's a really excellent film that, for the right audience at least, is going to be a deeply compelling and unsettling experience.