A Creepy Mystery set in the Most Pleasantly Haunting Atmosphere
DIRECTOR: MICHAEL MELSKI/2019
Rae (Suzanne Clement) is a crime writer who wants to spend her forty-second birthday at the Mercy Inn with her loving husband Liam. Monica (Shelley Thompson) is the welcoming caretaker who is there to tend to their needs and make sure they have a lovely stay. From the first frame that Monica walks into, you can see there is an evilness behind her kindness. Thompson plays the role with devilish reverence and without going to the depths of over-showing the horror, her performance keys in that something is off in this film.
Rae is there for work as much as pleasure. She is investigating a black market adoption scandal based on a true story that happened in Nova Scotia. The acts were committed by Monica’s mother. And the deeper Rae gets, the more connected she learns she is to the story and the more in danger she becomes.
The Child Remains does not hold back on the violence, mostly shown in the form of flashback. The violence mostly happens off screen, but considering it’s happening to infants, it’ll hit you the same. The movie feels very topical at this time, at least in the US, where abortion is a hot topic of discussion. And like most clever movies, it makes points without making a declarative statement. If you are on one side of the debate, you can read the film as a statement of the wanton cruelty displayed to infant life. And if you are on the other, you can read the film as a statement of birth being the most important thing, but not the subsequent treatment of the life after it comes out of the womb.
Or you can not take either view, and just watch it as a film, which may have been the intention two years ago when the film was made, unaware it was going to released into such a tumultuous time.
Either way, the film works. The first half of the film is stronger than the second, which falls into more of an info dump. If the last five minutes of Hereditary bother you, imagine that for thirty minutes. However the extremely strong performances of the two female leads really makes the movie work. Along with some nice homages to horror classics like Rosemary’s Baby.
The Child Remains is an effective atmospheric horror that gets the most out of its minimal locations. This would be an excellent film for first-time filmmakers to watch to take a lesson out of getting the most with very little.
The horror film festival circuit is made for movies like The Child Remains. A movie that takes risks, tackles serious subject matters but never loses hold of the horror genre fun. I’m glad the movie found its way through the circuit to distribution.