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Review: Steve Niles' Remains

12/16/2011 12:01 PM Eastern

Zombies — enlivened by the
runaway success of AMC’s The Walking Dead
— have become a hot genre property. So it was
probably a no-brainer for Chiller to mine the
same territory with its first original movie, Steve
Niles’ Remains
.

The telepic — like Walking Dead, adapted
from a graphic novel — is the story of what happens
to a handful of survivors of “Peace Day,”
when the U.S.
nuclear arsenal
is put out of
use with a massive
detonation
in a desert near
Reno, Nevada.

In Reno itself,
we meet
Tom (Grant
Bowler, True
Blood
) a downon-
his-luck blackjack dealer now plies his
trade at the run-down Silver Star Saloon. He
has a flirtation-hate relationship with one of
the casino’s cocktail waitresses, Tori (Evalena
Marie, Are We There Yet?), and convinces her
to join him for a few moments of passion in
the casino’s vault.

When they emerge, they find that the blast
has transformed most of Reno’s citizens have
into flesh-eating zombies. They eventually find a
third survivor in Jensen (Miko Hughes), a magician’s
assistant who was in the storage room
during the blast, and a fourth in Victor (Anthony
Marks), who is saved from a marauding horde of
zombies outside.

The rest of the film follows the quartet’s fight
to survive the zombie apocalypse and reach
out to the world beyond in search of others who
aren’t affected. The zombies themselves look
very much the part, and a lot went into making
the post-apocalyptic landscape seem real.
As much care should have been put into the
script. The movie doesn’t do much to explain
the relationships between the various characters,
and often times they don’t relate at all.

Eventually, the quartet receives a radio signal
from some unaffected humans, a psuedomilitary
brigade led by Ramsey (Lance Reddick)
and his daughter Cindy (Tawny Cypress). Soon
enough, there’s a battle between the survivors,
the soldiers take all the provisions from the casino,
and Tom and Tori are on their own again.
The soldiers are later attacked, and Cindy returns,
leading to even more tension.

As a first effort at an original film, Remains
is a mixed bag. Strong production values aren’t
enough to overcome a script that could have
used a few more revisions.

— Michael Demenchuk

October