Post-apocalyptic dystopia. As intriguing as it always sounds, there are always scope for it being done to death by a multitude of explorations. There are always some usual tropes in this premise that you cannot escape. It is up to you how to use them. Managing these tropes dictate whether the film is something new and novel or something that one always sees in this kind of films.
When I started watching Josh Mendoza’s ‘What Still Remains’, it seemed to me that it might fall into the latter category, but it did not eventually. The beginning is crammed with events and fast cuts to enhance the action and usual dialogues that reflects the state of the characters and their survival. Anna is the protagonist, who was raised by her mother, along with her brother, after the world is apparently plagued and ravaged by some unknown disease. Her currently sick mother dies and the brother disappears while being chased by unknown hooded figures. She tries to go on living in the house they lived together, in isolation, in middle of a forest; when she encounters a charming man who seems to want to take her to a sanctuary he had knowledge of.
The film, here reins the pace and starts to reveal its novelty. This is where the film takes a different turn from the path of usual survival and hide-and-seek with unknown marauders fare. It explores not only the ways to survive in a dystopia but the reasons behind surviving. One thing about the film is that it is not set immediately after the pivotal, dystopia-inducing event. Humanity is not at an immediate threat. Humans have nothing concrete to fear from apart from themselves.
Mendoza’s script revolves around not just surviving but living after an apocalypse. It checks whether the fallacies of the human nature still remain in a dystopia, or the situation and lack of participants increase that. It explores not only the survival of individuals but the survival of society and whether that is important at all. He does a more than decent job of capturing that on screen.
The cast does their roles well. Nothing extravagant, but suitable. A similar thing can be said about Matt Edwards’ camerawork. What Still Remains is a fine film set on a usual premise, but explores more than the premise offers.