The story centers on two lone survivors of a bizarre accident that reduced most of the world’s population to zombies. They take refuge in a vacant casino and fight a losing battle against the undead.
Based on the popular IDW 5 issue graphic comic series titled “Remains”, arrives a new zombie thriller from the mind of Steve Niles appropriately titled “Steve Niles’ Remains”. The film is produced by Synthetic Cinema International and cable TV channel Chiller TV. But before you assume another SyFY style adventure, you should give this one a whirl. There’s plenty here in the way of killer zombies that will wet any gore hound’s appetite.
After a nuclear explosion creates instant chaos in the form of flesh renting zombies, Tom and Tori, 2 Reno, Nevada casino locals, must sift thru the rumble and undead. Now, the reason for the nuclear incident is so fast that you’ll probably have to do a rewind to get the plot point on that reveal. But for the record, it’s a “peace bomb” that is supposed to end nuclear capability. Regardless Tom and Tori are in for the long haul.
Almost instantly they discover the world has taken a different tone, one that’s more in line with George Romero’s vision than that of a gambling Mecca. They are able to take refuge in the hotel while also taking on a few new acquaintances that have survived the blast. The temporary shelter seems to be adequate with a decent amount of supplies still in tack. They are soon joined by the gay hotel magician Jensen (Miko Hughes) and untrusting Victor (Anthony Marks)
If they were the only ones left, they might have a chance. But something always comes along to spoil the party. A militant group headed by Ramsey (Lance Redd*ck) shows up gun-toting and ready with promise of safety. That turns out to be short-lived as Tom and Tori learn that no one is to be trusted.
Meanwhile a new zombism is thrown into the genre. The idea of zombies sleeping “standing up” between days. This may not fit into all scenarios, but you have to hand it to the writers to introduce a few new ideas into a stale legacy. The zombies are getting more vicious and hungrier even attacking their own on occasion. Tom and Tori develop a broken and fragmented relationship that seems only temporary till they can get on to the next stage of life. Tori who starts out the resident bitch of the film only becomes more annoying to the point of subjecting her anti hero “Tank girl” like stammer into a character who begins to feel dispensable.
You have to admire. though the use of clever screen time moves that involves toying with the zombies when appropriate. I love the scene where Tom shoots out the garage opener to a disappointing infective result. Those kind of moves add a down to earth comedic tone lost in the days of Ash and his Army of Darkness. The action is what sells in this production upping the scale with even more violent and determined zombies. Do I smell a sequel? You betch-ya.
My only real criticism here is the use of explosions which seem obviously fake and interjected into the film. The use of Vegas works well which is credited as only being used for establishing shots. For fact finders, most of the production was shot in Connecticut which never feels displaced as a pseudo Reno.
“Steve Niles’ Remains” is shot professionally and demonstrates intelligent authorship in the script. The budget was estimated at $750,000 and seems well-used for the level of makeup and tight camera techniques. This is actually the first of Chiller TV’s productions I’ve seen and am quite impressed. Many times, especially when reviewing films brought over from he SyFY network, audiences assume a working but flawed standard. Chiller TV has upped the game with some great stuff here. I would probably list this within one of my zombie favorites, but the jury is still out on what is still coming down the pipe this year.
Steve Niles “Remains” is now available on blu-ray per Shout Factory
Steve Niles’ Remains (2011)