---------Review by contributing writer Scott Baker---------
FINAL REMAINS (aka. MORTUARY)
Directed by Shawn Hazelaar
Distributed by Vanguard Cinema
FINAL REMAINS (also known as Mortuary) is an interesting example of how not to make a movie. Oh sure, the basic elements are all there -- the DVD cover looks good (although a bit familiar), the plot sounds interesting, and even the movie itself looks good overall…but none of that matters if the execution of the plot is lacking.
The plot for FINAL REMAINS is this, courtesy of writer/director Shawn Hazelaar:
Deerhaven has been burdened by disappearances for more than two decades and local officials have come up empty as no trace of the missing have ever been found. An eccentric psychiatrist with questionable credentials comes to town implicating the local mortician, Henry Parks. Claiming to be Henry's former doctor from a facility where Henry had been institutionalized, Dr. Gronig suggests that the mortician may not have been suitable for release and may be using his father's parlor as a cover for deeper, darker things. During the same week four young college students plan for the local Friday night bash, but Monte has bigger plans for them. He wants to do something different and takes them from party to the local mortuary for a kinky midnight treat. The problem is that some of the doctor's implications may have been true and for Monte, Sky, Tina and Tony, this will be a night they will never forget. That is if they survive.
First, the good stuff.
The movie looks great for being a low-budget production. The sets are well done and the cinematography is excellent. Heck, even the acting is tight; there are a few members of the cast, including Leon Acord and Heather Hartmann , that I’d like to see in future productions.
But here’s the bad.
The underlying problem with this film is that it is, for lack of a better term, lifeless. Yes, it does stick (basically) to the plot as listed above. But there’s so much non-action and non-drama crammed into the film that it gets boring really fast. Not to mention the fact that many of the later scenes involve the four students simply sitting around in the mortuary, drinking and getting high. If I want to see a slacker-dope-film, I’ll go watch Half-Baked and at least laugh a little bit.
Even putting that aside, the action finally does kick up and the killer does start chasing them. But just when we’re on the verge of finding out whom he/she is, the most bizarre thing happens: the killer crawls into a furnace and burns himself alive.
And after THAT, we force-fed a trippy, this-is-supposed-to-be-a-Twiligh-Zone-moment-but-it-makes-no-sense scene involving a secret room in the mortuary. At this point, my head started hurting. I’m not sure if it was because I was still trying to process what happened, or if I was about to have a rage-blackout.
As the credits rolled, I sat there wondering what had just happened. Did I really just see that? Did the movie really just end that way? What was the point? At that moment, ‘lifeless’ changed into ‘annoying’. Any semblance of pleasure that I might have derived from Final Remains left at that point. A possible decent movie was ruined because of a lack of resolution (or sense).
Although it is well made, FINAL REMAINS should remain in the DVD mortuary because it is just about as dead and lifeless as the average corpse. I would like to give writer/director Shawn Hazelaar a nod for trying, but I’m still too angry with the movie at this point to do so. For now, avoid this one unless you're just wanting to piss yourself off.
CLICK HERE to watch the trailer
CLICK HERE to purchase the DVD
CLICK HERE to visit the official website of Vanguard Cinema