Last Girl Standing

What happens to the last surviving girl after a slasher film? Several years after her friends were brutally murdered by a deranged serial killer, soul survivor Camryn tries to live a reclusive life. Everything changes when a new guy gets hired at her work. Soon after, Camryn believes she is being stalked by the same killer she dealt with years ago. Can she save her friends the second time around?

The entire concept of this film is something I have wondered about myself. After watching your friends get killed, and after almost getting killed yourself, what would life be like after a slasher film ends? Luckily, writer/director Benjamin R. Moody decided to give audiences an idea of what that may be like. The audience is brought into the film during the climax of a slasher film. Then we are brought forward a few years to Camryn’s new life. She is quiet, reclusive, and generally just does her job and spends the rest of her time at home. Fast-forwarding to her new life was very effective because we got to see how devastating the effects of her tragedy were, without having to go through all the trials, investigation, and therapy that likely immediately followed the massacre. We also enter into Camryn’s new life just as she is beginning to make new friends, branching out of the bubble that has kept her safe.

While the first 10 minutes of the film are in the vein of a classic slasher film, the rest of the film reads more like a horror-drama. The characters still somewhat fit into a classic slasher film stereotype, but they have much more dynamic personalities. The audience gets to meet realistic characters doing and saying things that you would expect real people to, as opposed to what you typically see in a slasher film. It makes the story more raw and in many ways more frightening, because it is something that feels likely to happen in the real world. The realism only added to the tension and suspense that built as the film went on.

Another element of the plot I really enjoyed was the Pagan aspect. The serial killer, known as “The Hunter,” is said to have been killing all of those kids in order to perform some kind of ritual. What that ritual was, we don’t know. This made it seem plausible that the killer did in fact come back after we see him killed (it’s not a spoiler, it happens in the first 10 minutes of the film). For all we the audience know, that ritual was meant to make The Hunter immortal. That small addition of mysticism to the story added an extra layer of depth that keeps you guessing as to what is really going on. He also had an awesome “mask” that made The Hunter stand out from other serial killers.

This film had a very talented ensemble cast. While everyone did an amazing job, it is impossible not to feature Akasha Villalobos (Now Hiring) as a clear stand-out. Villalobos was able to show the many different emotional phases of someone who has dealt with extreme tragedy. She shows Camryn as the scared little girl in the beginning, then we see her as a recluse, then we see Camryn begin to come out of her shell, then we see her determination and paranoia when she believes the serial killer has come back. It takes quite a bit of talent to seamlessly portray all those personality traits without it feeling forced.

This being a slasher film, you can’t fully discuss the film without talking about the gore. I won’t lie, the screening that I went to for this film was quite dark. This made it harder to see a lot of the night-time blood and guts. What I did see was phenomenal. There was a ton of blood, some bodies that had been ripped open and gutted, knives and hatchets stuck in people, and even a grotesque decaying body. I can only assume that these practical effects would look even better if it had not been as dark. In the filmmaker’s defense, the screening was not meant to be this dark. The showtime for Last Girl Standing I went to was actually meant to be a different film at the Phoenix Film Festival, but there was a last-minute switch. From what I understand, the screening that I saw was from a DVD. Despite this, I still enjoyed what I saw.

This film combines so many horror sub-genres that it will appeal to many different audiences. Besides the darkness of the film, which was a fluke, there really isn’t much I didn’t enjoy while watching this film. Last Girl Standing takes audiences into the unknown aspects of slasher films and uses it to thoroughly mess with their heads. There are so many times where you find yourself second guessing what you thought was going on. This will happen right up until the climax of the film, which is exciting, fun, and bloody (as any good slasher movie ending is). If you have a chance to see this film on the big screen, I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10

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