The tried and true formula of a Slasher film is a thing of beauty. Sure, you might see the twists and turns coming from a mile away, but they’re fun and (generally) consistent. You have a wacky comedic relief character or two, the smoking-hot and obviously promiscuous single lady, a spooky scenario or locale, and a stereotypical alpha-male chump parading around with the sweetest and most innocent girl on Earth. This girl is typically your “survivor girl”, and while the events in our favorite Slasher flicks are often presented in an over-the-top or glorified manner, imagine the impact that something like that would have on a sole survivor’s life. How could you possibly recover from such a thing? Well, Director Benjamin R. Moody has delivered a film that confronts that question head-on. Last Girl Standing is a dramatic and unapologetic look at the consequences of survival, and it’s a film that absolutely needed to be made.
Last Girl Standing begins where most Slasher films start wrapping things up; in the midst of a bloody rampage. This is a bit jarring at first, because we have no clue who these people are, or what they have experienced up to this point. To the film’s credit, that doesn’t seem to matter. We’re quickly thrown into this nightmare and witness the death of the man responsible for the ensuing mayhem. What happens next is the gritty aftermath of our beloved genre.
The characters feel natural enough and fleshed out to the point of avoiding clichés for the most part. Like many horror films, there is a love-driven subplot, and while this is critical in getting our main character back into the social realm; it doesn’t necessarily feel important. It exists as a catalyst; to introduce our survivor girl to a wider group of friends, and that’s where the true subplot lies. Camryn (Survivor Girl/ Akasha Banks Villalobos) is introduced to Danielle (Danielle Evon Ploeger), and for the first time, I actually felt involved in the relationships of those on screen. They’re both genuinely good people, and you want to see their bond grow stronger over time. That’s good character design.
Now you might be asking yourself “Love interests? Friendships? Character Development? WHERE IS THE HORROR?!?”. It’s in there, I promise. Camryn is haunted by the memories of what happened to her and her (now deceased) friends. She has visions of the killer returning to attack her, or at least she thinks they’re visions… maybe they’re real? It is apparent early on that Camryn is on the brink of insanity. You chalk all of the initial jumps and spooks up to this, but as time goes on, you become less and less sure of yourself. At one point in particular, I found myself literally holding my breath for a particular answer. That’s good suspense.
Last, but certainly not least, Last Girl Standing is truly impressive both audibly and visibly. A movie like this takes time. Luckily, any time you feel as if the pace is about to slow, or you find yourself reaching for your cell phone, Director Benjamin R. Moody delivers a nice shock or two that keeps you engaged. That’s something that these Drama/Horrors often neglect to do. And make no mistake about it… there will be blood… much more than I initially expected, and I didn’t spot a single computer generated effect throughout the duration of the film. THAT’S how it’s done!
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the Slasher film has already happened. Last Girl Standing is the story of what happens next. And while it’s not without it’s own kills and thrills, that’s not it’s primary focus. What you get is a character study on a woman that finds herself on the edge of sanity, you get the mystery of a seemingly deceased serial killer, and you get the violence and suspense that you would expect from a Horror film. Last Girl Standing has laid out the blueprint for Dramatic Horror – Filmmakers, take note.
Last Girl Standing [Review]
Last Girl Standing is a dramatic and unapologetic look at the consequences of survival, and it’s a film that absolutely needed to be made.