What Remains, a new four-episode mystery program starring David Threlfall, is shot more like a horror film than like a television mystery program, what with its lingering shots of spooky stairwells and closed doors. For the most part, it takes place in a beautifully creepy old apartment where the body of a young woman is found in the attic. A bit of thrumming jazz adds just enough nervous energy to top it all off. More mysteries should take their cues from the visual and audio aesthetics of What Remains.
On his last day before retiring, Detective Inspector Len Harper (Threlfall) is working a new case, trying to figure out why no one reported the dead woman, Melissa Young, missing for two whole years. How is it possible that no one noticed she’d gone? Like many mysteries, Harper is the only copper who thinks foul play was involved; but unfortunately, he retires and is forced to investigate the case solo as a citizen, enlisting the help of the pregnant woman (played by Amber Rose Revah) who’s just moved into the flat with her boyfriend (played by Russell Tovey).
The deeper Harper digs, the more suspicious the other tenants of the apartment building become. One woman hates her for reasons unknown. One man is sleeping with her, much to the distress of his teenage son. Then there’s the bitter maths teachers, the neighbor who tried to make friends with her in vain, and the woman secretly living in the basement. How could there be so many suspects to the murder of someone who left so few footprints on the world? Or were they all in it together? The tangled lives of these dubious characters comes to a head in a cinematic, knuckle-whitening, “look behind you!” ending you never saw coming.
Threlfall does a wonderful job as DI Harper, a character struggling with his marriage to the job, the recent death of his wife, and his terminally ill police partner who’s begging him to give up the case. Threlfall displays a real sense of loneliness and it’s possible that the reason Harper can’t give up the job is because if he stops for a second, he’ll see just how alone he is. It’s as much a story of Harper’s struggles adjusting as it is of Melissa Young’s murder.
What Remains is available now from Amazon.co.uk as region 2/PAL DVDs.