Remains Colin Theys

Remains Colin Theys
If Steve Niles' Remains looks like a cheap made-for-TV movie, well, that's because it is. The author of macabre Alaskan-set vampire comic 30 Days of Night, which was turned into a pretty decent film by David Slade, does have a knack for sidestepping many genre clichés, or at least nodding to them, just barely saving this unessential zombie flick from being a total waste. Surprisingly, the zombie gambler metaphor hasn't been explored much, not that it is here with any depth, but the survivors of this zombie apocalypse are employees at a chintzy, cowboy-themed casino in Reno, Nevada. The effects, lighting and cinematography are all bottom of the barrel effluvium, so it's entirely up to the characters to tow the line. Thankfully, this is where Niles' creations, well, not shine, but glimmer a bit. Tom (Brant Bowler, Cooter from True Blood) and Tori (Evalena Marie), a dealer and waitress, respectively, pretty much loathe each other, but are nonetheless content to bump uglies to pass the time. While the meathead and bitch queen are getting coital in the supply locker, there's an incident with a nuclear device, causing radiation to shower down over a massive radius. Everyone exposed to the initial wave of the blast is turned into the flesh craving undead, though there's no firm logic indicating how much shelter was necessary to avoid immediate transition to insatiable cadaver. All of the beats typical of a locked down survival horror are in place: distrust, fear and hopelessness giving way to anarchistic self-preservation. Remains justifies its existence by playing against type, making alpha male Tom a truly dumb human being who'll try whatever he's seen in the movies ― like shooting the parking garage computer when he can't remember the exit password ― regardless of logic. These fleeting moments of semi-satirical amusement aren't nearly enough to warrant a recommendation, nor are the mostly superfluous special features contained on the DVD. A few brief behind-the-scenes clips are decent enough, but a bunch of TV promo spots showing clips of the movie you just watched aren't exactly "bonus" content. A blooper reel and audio commentary with the screenwriter, director and a producer aren't much more interesting ― hearing creator Steve Niles' thoughts on this adaptation of his story would have been of greater interest to viewers drawn to this project by his name, which is probably anyone who'd watch it. Titling a three-episode prequel short "Road to Reno" is misleading, as it has nothing to do with the events of the feature, but it is a reasonably compelling look at a man trying to maintain his humanity as a zombie bite slowly transforms him into a beast. You should probably catch up on The Walking Dead instead. (Shout! Factory)