Steve Niles’ Remains: Chiller Adapts Niles’ Twisted Zombie Apocalypse Graphic Novel Without Losing A Beat!

NUP_147563_0001 (242).jpg

Syfy’s sister network, Chiller has chosen an adaptation of Steve Niles’ original graphic novel Remains [Friday, 10/9C] as its first original movie. It’s a nifty take on the zombie apocalypse genre with a unique point of view and brisk, witty execution.

Remains stars Grant Bowler [True Blood], Evalena Maria [Are We There Yet?], and Miko Hughes [Pet Sematary] as three people caught in a rundown hotel and casino in Reno, Nevada when there’s a zombie apocalypse. Tawny Cypress and Lance Reddick also star as a military man and his daughter who are part of a surviving military convoy that raid the place for supplies.

Steve Niles’ Remains opens with a casino waitress and dealer – Tori [Marie] and Tom [Bowler] sneaking off to hook up and getting stuck in a walk-in fridge and thereby not being exposed to the cause of apocalypse [yes, there’s a cause – and it’s an ironic, witty bit of whimsy!]. When they get out, things have changed.

They are joined by mechanic Jensen [Miko Hughes] and mercenary hustler O’Brien [Bobby Rice] and together, they try to secure the place [trapping a zombie in an industrial dryer is but one bizarre choice]. Add the appearance of Ramsey [Reddick], his daughter Cindy [Cypress] and their military raiding party and things degenerate pretty quickly.

Tori is a real mercenary – she’ll do anything to survive; O’Brien’s middle name could be betrayal; Jensen is something of an innocent, and while tom isn’t stupid, he does take a while to put things together sometimes [he’s also the only one who actually comes up with any plans for survival]. Ramsey is a bit of a martinet – and a doting father, but Cindy is something of a maverick.

The way the characters interact feels right emotionally – even when they may not be doing the smart thing – but Marie and Bowler are standouts.

Chiller’s first original movie is a witty, eccentric piece that puts a fresh spin on what has become a very hot horror sub-genre. Remains is grotesque and witty; dark and funny. Some of its spins are to be expected [if you get bit by a zombie and get away, you will become a zombie], but the tropes of the genre are used to set up unexpected moments of delight [like a bit with an elderly slots player] and moments of mercenary ruthlessness [two guys in the flatbed of a truck – not what you’re expecting].

John Doolan’s script is much smarter than a lot of productions that get a theatrical release and director Colin Theys has created a terrific entertainment for what is probably less than the cost of a single episode of Walking Dead. Considering that, the effects – make-up, CG, practical – are extremely well done and very effective.

As with any zombie movie, it might be possible to read in any kind of allegory/metaphor, but Steve Niles’ Remains succeeds, first and foremost, as pure, bloody, entertainment.

Final Grade: B+

Photo by Paul Melluzzo/courtesy Chiller/NBCUniversal