It’s a question we all ask ourselves when the end of the world comes: What Still Remains? People? Animals? Someone? No one? Monsters? Yeah, we don’t usually think of monsters, but in this particular halting of mankind, monsters in all forms have survived. Who you trust will be who keeps you alive-or kills you.
Twenty-five years after a viral outbreak decimated the population, the remaining survivors still fear that deadly illness and the feral “Changed” it has created. Against this post-apocalyptic backdrop, a young woman loses her family and struggles to survive on her own in the wilderness. When a lonely traveler offers her a place in his community, she must decide if the promise of a better life is worth the risk of trusting him. But as she ventures out into a world she’s never known, she discovers there are far more dangers than the legends of savage beasts from her childhood. Numerous factions of humanity still endure and she will learn people can become their own kind of monster.
The population has been eradicated due to some form of disease/infection/outbreak that turns people into wild, soulless beings, a slight difference of who they were as a human, since some are still as evil and questionable with their morals as they were “before the change” which makes things quite interesting.
So, after this change took place, what still remains?
- A strong female heroine.
- A dashing, handsome stranger.
- Complex characters that keep viewers interested.
- Dead family members.
- Lots of unstable survivors making disturbing decisions.
- Creepy whistling.
- A typical post-apocalyptic movie.
While this movie doesn’t include anything that sets it apart from all the other films that touch similar situations, What Still Remains had some really strong moments. Unfortunately, they are woven between really slow scenes with so much dialogue that all I could think about were those famous words from every single creative writing teacher:
“Show, don’t tell.”
The two lead characters carry the movie, and they are interesting and engaging enough to keep one’s attention. Played by Lulu Antariksa and Colin O’Donoghue, Anna and Peter take you on yet another “girl outlives her entire family during a plague and a good-looking stranger shows up out of nowhere to whisk her away to a promised land (village)” story. Except Anna doesn’t trust Peter–but she still goes with him anyway.
C’mon, Anna. You’re better than this, and you’ve proved it. What gives?
Anna’s hesitance is one of those moments where we all yell at her to not go, stay strong girl, you don’t need a man to survive, you survived a freaking zombie outbreak, telling this guy to go kick rocks is easier than watching that video of the dog who’s best friends with an elephant on YouTube for the 920856204th time.
But Anna can’t hear us because she’s in a movie, and so we just have to watch her follow Peter on their three day walk through the woods. Here, we learn about The Change, a population control type of incident nature cast upon the world some 25 years earlier, as well as Berserkers, survivors who purposely infect themselves (ummmmm????). Peter gives all of us plenty of warning signs that he is unhinged, but they slip right over Anna’s head because she just keeps following him deeper into the woods until they finally arrive at their destination.
Anna is your badass, female lead. The lone survivor of her family after her mom dies and brother goes missing, she is well and truly alone. This suits her just fine, though, because she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself, as well as doing whatever it takes to stay alive.
Peter stumbles upon Anna’s cabin, and after they exchange words that prevents the exchange of bullets, Anna learns that Peter was a young boy when “The Change” occurred. Born into the world years after this happened, Anna has only ever known this kind of life, where you kill things that used to be humans. For Peter, he remembers what life was like, which fuels his vision for a future like this again.
Helping to aid this future vision are Judith, Zack, and Ben, who are the other leaders of this community Peter brings Anna to. Everyone is standoffish towards Anna, because, as we’ve already established, strangers can’t (shouldn’t) be trusted (ahem, Anna). So far, the movie is like a normal day in the South, where everyone pulls a gun on everyone and it’s no big deal until this village starts to feel like a cult after Anna is declared sponsored, and then “bound” to Peter after being baptized. I think we all know where this is headed, and finally, so does Anna.
Predictability in a movie that has a plot that’s been done and redone, then made over, then given a twist here, and a slight plot change there, is…predictable. Inevitable?
In any case, it’s going to happen. Coming back from the dead/zombies/infected humans goes all the way back to the time Jesus rose from the dead. So, it’s a solid assumption that most of us will have when we hear of another movie where the world has more space to breathe, yet everyone hides from each other like a cut-throat game of hide-and-seek. So imagine my surprise when I realized how much I liked these typical characters who made every move, mistake, and decision that I’ve seen made a bazillion times before.
Lulu Antariksa (Anna), Roshon Fegan (David), Colin O’Donoghue (Peter), Mimi Rogers (Judith), Dohn Norwood (Ben), and Jeff Kober (Zack) give incredible performances that bring these overused characters to life. You know how someone can believe in something so stupid, you question how they’ve managed to stay alive for so long, but then you realize it’s not actually belief propelling them forward, it’s a reaction to tragedy? You feel this from every character in What Still Remains because the actors are that good and convincing. Tragedy brings out a side of people that you would never see otherwise. And this is the side of Anna, Peter, Ben, David, Judith, and Zack that we see within the movie.
Lots and lots of pretty scenery of the woods, the forests, the sky, the countryside, the mountains, the woods, and also some scenery of forests. It’s a nice contrast to the dreary setting these survivors have been forced into. We get a brief look at the abandoned city at the start of the movie where Anna and her brother, David, go searching through in hopes of finding anything that could aid in their survival.
Not much music out here in the land of the “un-living.” This works, though, because you can hear every little noise that the woods produce that creeps people out. The Berserkers, who don’t talk much, communicate with each other through a series of whistles that produces the same results similar to Yondu’s whistle in Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s not backed by upbeat music, a sarcastic trash panda, or the cutest little Groot to ever exist, making it beyond disturbing. It’s actually one of the better scenes in the movie that makes you sit up and pay more attention.
This isn’t Warm Bodies or Zombieland. This is definitely a horror and thriller film, though it lacks any kind of visuals to strengthen this claim. While “The Changed” aren’t exactly zombies, they are feral beings who hunt and kill other beings, some who act just as feral and evil.
While this isn’t your typical zombie movie, the plot of civilization dying off because off a world-wide infection makes What Still Remains more predictable than what comes after lightning. The acting is fantastic, and the cinematography is beautiful, but for this movie-lover, that’s not enough to make a movie stand out from the rest of the movies exactly like it.
As much as Anna hesitated with her decision to leave her home and follow a stranger to an unknown destination, she still did. And we knew she would, because that’s how the story goes. But, what if she secretly followed him to his community instead? What if she decided to take matters into her own hands after discovering this community? Something like this would’ve set it apart from the other films in this genre, and would’ve given it an element of surprise, which is unfortunately lacking in What Still Remains.