Last of the Living (2009)

THE PATIENTS

Director: Logan McMillan
Writer: Logan McMillan
Starring: Morgan Williams, Robert Faith, Ashleigh Southam, Stacey Stevens

THE PATHOLOGY

Three house-hopping layabouts slacking their way through the zombie apocalypse find themselves thrust into the role of unlikely heroic trio when they have to help a scientist make her way to an island base to deliver a potential cure. Can they overcome the horrific horde – and their own lack of energy – to make it there in time and in one piece?

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THE PROGNOSIS

There’s a halfway decent zombie movie here, but it’s let down by a less than polished production and an apparent waning interest on the part of the film makers, who late in the film utterly give up on scene transitions and then completely fumble the ending, cutting to black when they simply run out of things to do…or money, based on some behind the scenes reports.

We have a very good trio of unlikely heroes, each with their own distinctive personality quirks and some reasonably satisfying comedic timing (although Ashleigh Southam’s constant geeky gurning gets a bit hard to take after a while). Tooling around in an almost potentially iconic Ford Cortina Mk3, this is a zombie-fighting team you could find yourself rooting for, and indeed I did from time to time. Sadly, however, it isn’t worth getting invested in their efforts, and not because of the genre’s predictability when it comes to the mortality of a movie’s main cast.

This is a zombie-fighting team you could find yourself rooting for, and indeed I did from time to time.

One major flaw is the movie’s desire to get a bit more serious instead of sticking with the tone of a light-hearted romp as our less-than-sharp survivors hop from house to house. Once they meet the all-too-earnest scientist and become part of her crusade, we’re in for a poorly paced ticking clock of a plot that only serves to unravel the already threadbare proceedings.

What I initially took to be the clever if familiar tactic of naming the main characters after zombie genre icons – Ash (EVIL DEAD), Morgan (LAST MAN ON EARTH), and Johnny (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD) – turned out after seeing one of the cast interview extras to be less than calculated, with the characters simply named after a couple of the actors playing the parts! So much for giving them credit for nods to zombie history…except of course for when they blatantly lift entire shots from films like 28 DAYS LATER.

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Ultimately, my main disappointment with LAST OF THE LIVING is not that it’s a bad movie, but that it occasionally shows signs of having the potential to be a halfway decent one, or at least a “so bad it’s good” experience. There’s the aforementioned rapport between the leads, a few good lines, some reliably impressive New Zealand landscapes as backdrop, and even a couple clever ideas desperately looking for a better film to surround them. The worst part is that after investing the time and being buoyed by those few positive factors, the final ten minutes or so plays out like less than an afterthought, with two major deaths and a non-ending that almost rivals that of MONSTER A-GO GO.

The final ten minutes or so plays out like less than an afterthought.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe – to paraphrase the ending of that infamous MST3K subject – there were no zombies, no hapless trio, nothing in my living room but two puzzled zombie fans of courage who suddenly found themselves alone with shadows and darkness.

*instantly cut to black*

RATING

03brains

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