Comic book writer and novelist Steve Niles is probably best-known for the 2007 feature based on his work, 30 Days of Night. Nowadays he's an executive producer on a zombie story called Remains, which is based on his IDW 5-issue comic.
A TV movie which aired for more than 30 days of nights on the Chiller cable channel, this flick is new to DVD with a few extras and in unrated version (whatever that means; it seemed pretty PG rated to me) and while the story bears his name, it's hard to gage how much Niles had to do with the actual end result. It's not a very individualistic or stylized story, but it's serviceable.
Taking place in a Reno casino after a nuclear explosion, the faux gore-soaked action centers on a bitty band of survivors trying to hold it together while the rest of the population has devolved into mindless, ravenous zombies who will stop at nothing to devour the living. Our heroes are a bickering but intense couple Tom (Grant Bowler) and Tori (Evalena Marie), and those in their orbit include military man Ramsey (Lance Reddick), gay stage magician Jensen (Miko Hughes), and sexy Cindy (Tawny Cypress).
There's a lightness and lots of comedy to Remains, and while it's not a comedy per se, this tone is absolutely what keeps it from becoming yet another direct-to-disc unscary undead snooze-fest. Nice cinematography with lots of attention to light, shadow and color, plus a good score and deft direction all help. The acting's pretty peppy and snarky asides are delivered with verve. Even the zombies have personality (though none are actual characters, the players put more into their performances than your typical day player).
What doesn't quite work, which is a shame given the fact this is, above all, a horror movie, are the special effects. The monster makeup is unconvincing here and there but overall forgivable, while the CGI is subpar. The explosions are anemic at best, and some of the zombie attacks would be better off bloodless.
All things considered, Remains is reasonably entertaining escapism and is a fun enough apocalyptic fright fest.
Blu-ray and DVD Special Features
•Short Film: Remains: Road to Reno, the prequel
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson