As a selection from FrightFest Halloween, I expected Last Survivors to be far more horror-leaning than the end product would suggest. A smidgen of sci-fi adds flavor to a pared-down simple story about survival and hope. However, as the narrative unfurls, the true complexities of the scenario rear their ugly head, adding an entirely new layer of promise and intrigue. Director Drew Mylrea and screenwriter Josh Janowicz (2019’s bizarre hyper-sexual robot thriller, Life Like) team up to present a surprisingly engaging piece of post-apocalyptic filmmaking.
Jake (Drew Van Acker) and his father, Troy (Stephen Moyer), live off the grid in their own utopia, shielded from outside influence in the aftermath of a World War III that has caused man to “fall far from his primitive roots.” Jake and his father scavenge the land and remain self-sufficient in their living situation, despite dwindling resources and the occasional distraction to their carefully crafted calm. Everything is about to change with the entrance of an outsider named Henrietta (Alicia Silverstone). As Jake becomes enamored with Henrietta and exploring what lies beyond the borders of their limited living space, Troy works tirelessly to shield Jake from the horrors of the outside world. Hanging in the balance is everything Troy has worked so hard to build for his son…
Last Survivors is predictable in a story sense, but its approach to character-driven dystopia is a respectable effort indeed. Visually, the snowy Montana landscape adds a gorgeous level of sophistication. Shot in just eighteen days, I was impressed with the technical eye of director Drew Mylrea—one can practically feel the frigid chill of the wintry setting. The world of the post-apocalypse is unique thanks to the setting and attention to detail.
At times, Last Survivors felt like it needed to be expanded and made into a television show, like a pilot overstuffed with ideas. Perhaps this feeling is due in part to the presence of seasoned television actors, Stephen Moyer and Drew Van Acker, who have impressed in both True Blood and Pretty Little Liars, respectively. In my personal opinion, these actors as well as Silverstone elevate the material with their approach. If male nudity is your thing, slide Last Survivors onto your “must watch” list—Drew is great eye candy from start to finish, and the camera follows just about every existing splendid angle of his nude backside. When the movie started with a naked Jake dipping his toes into chilly water, I had a feeling it would be a motif revisited frequently throughout.
Last Survivors may not change the formula (one can predict nearly every bit of its scripting), but it remains a tight and thrilling way to spend nearly two hours of one’s time. When shifting gears into a thrilling pursuit movie in the final act, Last Survivors is sure to close out with a memorable bang. Potent messaging and a hopeful tone fit like a warm blanket over the dreary grit of the first third. I only wish more Covid-spun productions were this good.
Last Survivors screened at 2021’s FrightFest Halloween. It will be released sometime in 2022.