They Remain – USA, 2018

‘Don’t Turn Around.’

They Remain is a 2018 horror thriller film written, edited and directed by Philip Gelatt, based on the short story -30- by Laird Barron; it stars William Jackson Harper and Rebecca Henderson.

Two scientists who share a romantic history are tasked with investigating unnatural animal behaviour on the site of a Manson Family-style cult’s compound…

Reviews:

“Burdened by a 100-minute runtime that feels fat, Gelatt could have mitigated a portion of the malaise with a few more scissor snips in the editing room. Gelatt has a handle on how he means to construct a story through atmosphere. His sense of rhythm just doesn’t balance what is essential with what is excisable.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt

“The film is 100% gung-ho with its mystery, never once revealing the poker hand it holds. With much confidence and bravado in direction, Philip Gelatt breaks ground on hallucinatory colors and imagery quickly and without regret. We start struggling to grasp what’s on screen and end by coming to our own conclusion(s).” Bill Arceneaux, Neaux Reel Idea

They Remain is less interesting for its familiar ideas than its lo-fi craft. Mr. Gelatt uses negative space to emphasize Jessica and Keith’s isolation from each other and plays games with perspective, inviting speculation about Jessica’s offscreen actions. Productive ambiguity can tip into unrealized potential, and They Remain ultimately leans too heavily on vagueness as a crutch.” Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

“It takes a half hour of checking camera settings before They Remain really gets going at all, even if the eventual journey is a pretty one. When it does get intense, Gelatt resorts to too many hallucinatory devices and dream sequences to keep us engaged, and the flashes of naked cult members murdering people are woefully misguided.” Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

“Gelatt takes minimalism to a new level, both in the exposition and in the presentation of the situation. We only find out about what is happening and why the scientists are there through a few lines of dialogue […] The score is discordant and understated, and long shots of Keith as he slides into his paranoia are both riveting and unsettling.” Shelagh Rowan-Legg, Screen Anarchy

“Creeping malevolence can be easy to overdo, and They Remain does occasionally get high on its own supply, with a second act that features a few too many scenes of the characters just tromping slowly through the woods. Still, there’s an awful a lot for horror fans to savor here, culminating in the final minutes, which go from ominous to overt with a jarring, destined-to-be-rewound suddenness.” Andrew Wright, The Stranger

Cast and characters:

  • William Jackson Harper … Keith
  • Rebecca Henderson … Jessica

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