Last Girl Standing (2015) Review

lgs1Last Girl Standing (USA, 2015)

Dir: Benjamin R. Moody

Starring: Akasha Villalobos, Danielle Evon Ploeger, Brian Villalobos

UK Release TBC

Plot: After surviving the brutal massacre of The Hunter, a slasher movie style masked killer who wiped out all her friends, Camryn (Villalobos) is just trying to get on with her life. She struggles to move on, avoiding making friends at the dry cleaners she works at, and still living out of boxes at home. That is until Nick (Villalobos) starts working the counter at the dry cleaners. The two end up getting closer and Camryn meets Nick’s friends. Her new friends are in trouble though when Camryn starts seeing The Hunter stalking them and her fears that history might be repeating it self start to mount.

Last Girl Standing takes the archetypal Final Girl of the slasher movie sub-genre and shows us just what happens to that girl when she doesn’t find herself in a franchise of 5 or more films (How will she ever get to go to space if not for some seventh instalment?) and instead goes down a route of Survivor’s Guilt and PTSD. Another horror that takes the challenge of mixing horror with mental illness. It’s a trickier feat these days because it’s getting less and less acceptable to say “He’s crazy and that’s why he kills” without being an insensitive asshole these days.

lgs3Camryn is clearly a traumatised woman and her self-inflicted isolation doesn’t seem to be helping her condition, especially when she starts catching glimpses of The Hunter despite the fact that she saw him die. Last Girl Standing attempts to show the support friendship can offer through Camryn’s interactions with characters like Nick and Danielle (Evon). However when things go bad, it starts to get awfully close to the line of tastefulness, Camryn’s mental problems and violence don’t look good if it’s supposed to represent how PTSD manifests itself.

While it’s not an impossibility that the traumatic events of her past have effected her, most violent people do come from some past abuse, it doesn’t quite feel enough to make her actions feel justified. However films are not here to show us what the realms of probability and logic are and Last Girl Standing takes us along for a ride where violence perpetuates violence as Camryn struggles to escape her trauma.

Aside from it’s depiction of mental illness, Last Girl Standing is notable for it’s spin on the Slasher movie sub-genre. It’s not so openly meta as films like Scream or Cabin in the woods. It strives to create it’s own mythos rather than borrow from films like Friday the 13th . There is no screaming about people running up stairs when they should be going down them. This film is all about the Final Girl, and yet there’s no reference to things like her being a virgin or anything as cliché as that. Camryn is physically strong, it’s what helped her survive, but it’s the cracks in her mental well-being that make her an interesting character.

lgs2Last Girl Standing is a film all slasher movie fans should watch, an interesting film that stands out amongst all the love-letter slasher homages that keep trying to create the next Freddy Kreuger but ultimately has us watching another two hours of people running around the woods. Last Girl Standing tells us a new story, what happens next.