I’ll admit again and again that post apocalypse movies are my sweet spot in regards to genre cinema. I eat movies about survival after the end of the world with a spoon and am hardly ever let down. “What Still Remains” as far as its concerned is fairly standard post apocalyptic fare. It by no means re-invents the wheel with its narrative and characters, but at times it doesn’t seem like director and writer Josh Mendoza is trying to. In the end I was more impressed by what Mendoza does with his lead heroine more than anything, and I’d love to see Ana return once again in another movie of this ilk.
“What Still Remains” is a comfortable mix of “Book of Eli” and “Doomsday” where it’s set twenty five years after an unexplained disease turns its victims in to savage monsters. After most of humanity has been wiped out, we meet Anna, who is surviving in the woods with her brother and her dying mother. When her brother is taken by one of the infected, she sets out to find him but instead crosses paths with a mysterious man named Peter. With her mother now dead, Anna sets out for a new path in the world, hoping to find her brother as well, but things don’t seem so picturesque when Anna is introduced to Peter’s community, which seems very militant in their biblical beliefs and doctrines.
“What Still Remains” is quite good, even if it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Religious maniacs, savage tribes, survival in the woods, tribal warfare, it’s all been done before, but director Mendoza approaches it with a flair that entertained me. Even with its over familiarity, I was enjoying the characters and the way Mendoza plays with our perceptions of the protagonists and their views of right and wrong in a world where all of man’s law is gone. Mendoza directs a solid cast that includes Mimi Rogers, Colin O’Donoghue, Jeff Kober, and Roshon Fegan, respectively. The stand out though is Lulu Antariksa who helps bring to life a very entertaining and charismatic heroine.
Anna is one of the best protagonists of the sub-genre I’ve seen in years, and Antariksa plays her with as much realism and down to Earth appeal as the script allows. Anna never pulls off amazing feats, but she’s always thinking on her toes, and is always two steps ahead of every character in the narrative. I wish Mendoza could have explored her handling of steel weapons more, as the inclusion of Anna forging her own weapons is a great bit of exposition. Nevertheless, Anna is definitely a heroine I wanted to see much more of. “What Still Remains” is entertaining, if standard, post apocalyptic cinema with a dash of commentary on the ugliness of humanity and religious fanaticism for good measure. I’d recommend it to any fan of the sub-genre.
Opens theatrically August 10th, and on VOD nationwide in the U.S. August 14th.