MARCH 2, 2018 -- Philip Gelatt's second directorial effort is an adaptation of Laird Barron's novella --30-- and amazingly slow. At the halfway point you begin to understand why it was written as a short story rather than a complete novel as it seems Gelatt added at least 45-minutes of filler to stretch it to its 102-minute run-time.


Starring television actor William Jackson Harper as Keith and little known Rebecca Henderson as Jessica - two scientist on assignment in the woods to analyze an area where animals are behaving strangely. If that sounds eerily similar to the recent Alex Garland thriller "Annihilation", you wouldn't be too far off. The big diffrence is the pacing is dreadfully slow as Gelatt tries to mask the films micro-budget.

The area was once the home to a homicidal cult that lured homeless youth to their camp and apparently slaughtered them. A flashback detail would have probably given some life to the legend but instead it is only described by Henderson's character in a dull monotone voice... and personality that I think she tried to borrow from "X-Files."


Keith is the armed botanist whose main function is to go out and collect samples. You will lose track of the number of times the collection scenes repeat with a cheap computerized sound track playing in the background to build suspense. Instead it lends itself to the cheeziness of the production.


Over time Keith and Jessica start to develop a certain passionate distrust for each other that really makes no sense at all. Again, you must assume they once had a romantic relationship, but they have absolutely no screen chemistry to reaffirm it. The one moment of passion feels unwarranted rather than driven by lust and desire; this the scene seems out of place.


Ever since low budget wonders "Paranormal Activity" and "Blair Witch Project", it's easier to be critical of films produced on a shoestring. There need to be more story and less redundancy of the same monotonous scenes. Better dialogue and a juicier backstory would have improved this narrative greatly; you wonder what changes Gelatt made during his rewrite.


There are moments when cameraman Sean Kirby lines up an amusing shot, but you'll need to stop yawning to appreciate it as the films molasses slow pace ruins everything.


"They Remain" could possibly impress an audience with extremely low expectations and possibly a few cocktails at hand, but anyone looking for actual suspense will be greatly disappointed.   -- GRADE D-  --   GEOFF BURTON