The Last Winter **1/2
Directed by Larry Fessenden
Written by Larry Fessenden and Robert Leaver
Ron Perlman as Ed Pollack
James LeGros as James Hoffman
Connie Britton as Abby Sellers
Kevin Corrigan as Motor
Jamie Harrold as Elliot Jenkins
Pato Hoffmann as Lee Means
Zach Gilford as Maxwell McKinder
Joanne Shenandoah as Dawn Russell
Larry Fessenden as Charles Foster
101 Minutes(Not Rated)
Of late the environment really has been a big theme within almost every movie imaginable, especially documentaries. There was the informative Al Gore film "An Inconvenient Truth"-which I saw one too many times-then the less informative, carbon copy version "The 11th Hour," and there has been environmental messages tacked onto movies like "In the Shadow of the Moon" and "The Last Mimzy," but here is something a little bit more original-an environmentally friendly horror movie. This is the idea behind "The Last Winter," a well shot and sometimes scary horror movie, that reminded me a bit of "The Thing," by John Carpenter-except the monster is certainly not as imaginable or even that real looking.
The opening images show us landscapes from the Alaskan tundra, and as we go deeper and deeper into it, we realize that these main characters are completely alone. We open with a group of scientists trying to get oil out of the ground. They are led by Ed Pollack, who is a bit stunned to learn that they are under watch by James Hoffman, who was sent to make sure things are on the up and up. He is even more stunned to learn that Hoffman is fooling around with Abby, the only woman on the crew that Ed clearly has the eye for. As they get ready to begin drilling, certain members of the crew are struck by something odd out in the big white, and when one of the crew members goes missing the problem becomes more serious than they thought.
Although the premise makes it sound like it will, the movie never becomes a story about a crew where they are one by one picked off by a monster. Instead, even though certain members of the party go off on their own, they are really effected by a group instead of individuals. This is the key message of the movie-we will all be affected if global warming continues. Nature in this film is treating the human race as an infection and will do anything to stop it. We are the problem, and nature sees us as the villain. As I said through films like "Into the Wild" nature is quite a powerful force, and the fact that it is viewed as the most powerful thing on Earth-which is in-in this film, that fact alone would have been scary enough. But no. Writer and director Larry Fessenden ends up going another route and actually shows us the monster, and complete indie film creation. This is the most laughably fake thing I've seen in ages, and the good job that he does at creating tension and creepy setting is killed by this really bad creature that they show-it was almost like they superimposed the CGI directly onto the frame instead of creating it. I understand they had a low budget, but maybe they should have just ignored that factor. Nature itself is a more scary villain.
Fessenden really does show that he has what it takes to make more horror, and there is quite a bit of tension throughout the film. And the message is quite positive, even if the film portrays everything as quite bleak. This is almost a good film, and even though its mask is something different, I am getting a little tired of the environmental issues everywhere I go.