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‘What Still Remains’ (review)

Produced by Nicholas Lazo,
Gregg Meller, Josh Mendoza
Written and Directed by Josh Mendoza
Starring Lulu Antariksa, Colin O’Donoghue,
Mimi Rogers, Dohn Norwood, Peter O’Brien,
Jeff Kober, Roshon Fegan

 

As an avid movie-watcher, I’m prone to making declarations such as, “If I never see another post-apocalyptic movie for the rest of my life, I’ll be quite happy.”

But then something like Mad Max: Fury Road or The Girl With All The Gifts comes along and I think perhaps I’m being too rigid or narrow-minded.

And then something like What Still Remains comes round and the declaration seems to ring true once more.

I’m sure everyone involved with this film had the best intentions, hoping to put their own spin on an extremely well-worn subgenre.

But the end result is so lifeless, plodding and predictable, it’s a wonder that there was any enthusiasm for this project to begin with.

The story kicks off with Katniss…er, Anna having to leave her brother behind on a hunting trip gone bad. She runs to safety as her trapped brother is left to the mercy of a member of the Berserkers, your typical band of post-apocalyptic ne’er-do-wells.

This opening scene already had me angry: Anna leaves her brother to die as she makes her escape (at his insistence). All well and good….except she is carrying a loaded rifle. Why didn’t she hide behind a tree, take aim on the Berserker and fire, thus saving her brother?

Anyway, Anna goes home and lies to her mother, telling her that her son is still hunting and everything’s cool. Except mom is dying from the disease that has wiped out most of the Earth’s population, so soon enough, Anna is on her own.

Anna’s jarring lack of smarts and imagination on display in the opening scene carries on as she meets young, handsome and appealingly spiritual Peter, and the two embark on a journey to his community, and promised security and safety.

What Still Remains is such a slog because nearly every beat and revelation is so predictable and drama-free, laced throughout with banal dialogue (“Pain is the only certainty in life”, growls a villain…..zzzz…sorry, what? Time for school, Mom??) and performances that run the gamut from bug-eyed to competent to somnambulistic.

While Lulu Antariksa as Anna is beautiful, she gives a dull, passionless performance, and she and Colin O’Donoghue as Peter come across as kids playing dress-up.

The direction is also uninspired and tedious. There’s not a single interesting shot in the film and the camera’s job, apparently, is to merely record the onscreen events as generically as possible.

Certainly — as George Miller and others have proven — tired, overplayed genres and subgenres can have new life breathed into them. All it takes is an interesting point of view and some filmmaking savvy.

Unfortunately, What Still Remains demonstrates neither.

 

What Still Remains is now playing in theaters
and arrives On Demand on August 14th

 

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