Director Juliane Block’s vision is so described as one that is “drawn to the dark side of human nature”, according to her IMDb. 8 Remains, Block’s newest thriller, is certainly indicative of this fact and serves up an interesting feat from top to bottom; I’ll leave matters of its freshness for those who follow this particular genre.
Actress and co-producer Maja-Celiné Probst plays Talli, a beleagured young woman otherwise enamored in what looks to be a prospective visit to the castle home of her new beau, Damien, played by Gregory B. Waldis. Little does Talli know that her love interest has invited her to her own death by strangulation, ensuing a whirlwind afterlife journey that entraps Talli’s soul in an ethereal hellscape encompassed in Damien’s own controlled thoughts.
It is in this afterworld that Talli must now navigate through a raft of painful memories, from childhood and onward, including that of her abusive stepfather, her suicidal best friend, and the ex-boyfriend she dumped. Parallel to these endeavors are new discoveries she makes about Damien and how many victims there may have actually been before her, including his own wife.
Underneath it all, the events seen in 8 Remains play out in a single moment in which seconds before her life nearly slips, time freezes and our protagonist begins her journey. Psychic barriers keep her from leaving the confines of the castle which happen to enclose the world in which Talli traverses to try and find a way out. There’s no real founding reason or method behind why this happens or how Damien is able to do what he does, as things here are presented forwardly with an expressed willingness to tell a supernatural tale that goes bold.
Talli’s journey back in time is a myriad past events first hand that she can’t control, if not barely, while forced confronting prior demons and fears that test her resolve. There’s an air of female empowerment to the theme in conjunction with Talli’s own self-discovery here; From within the first act, Talli affirms that she doesn’t want to die and everything that happens going forward will be a definitive mark in her resolve, which, if she can remain steadfast, will help her find a way to use Damien’s mystique against him.
Admittedly, this kind of creative penchant wasn’t what I expected when Block came on my radar in 2013 with projects like Damaged Kung Fu (2011), and a proof-of-concept titled The Inner District. As for my own coverage and as time went by, I began covering more suspenseful horror thrillers from time to time which is always a good challenge for me. 8 Remains, Block’s fourth feature film, was a noteworthy chance to see what she could do at feature length.
There isn’t a lot in 8 Remains to substantiate what keeps the engine running for the nebulous realm that the role of Damien platforms, which makes the film feel like something of a real-time experiment playing before your eyes. Block definitely has the formula down packed in applying moments of upheaval and danger, as well as more thrilling moments and chase sequence. There’s definitely one that feels perplexing – and that’s when Damien catches up to Talli and her younger self in the woods. We don’t know if Talli kept running or if they stopped and decided to turn around, or if Damien’s psychic barriers were at work again.
It’s kind of a small nitpick, but nothing too worth fretting over if you’re willing to overlook it for the broader narrative at hand. The film moves slow at various moments and the mechanics of the film’s application are a mystery from start to finish. Depending on your metric for supernatural suspense genre films like this, 8 Remains may very well be worth a rental. Order 8 REMAINS now on Amazon Prime!