Review by: Dave Wain
Stars: Travis Van Winkle, Tricia Helfer, Stephen Bogaert, John Bregar, Albert Chung
Written by: David Nahmod
UK Certification: 18
UK RRP: £12.99
UK DVD Region: 2
Runtime: 92 minutes
Directed by: Eric Wostenberg
UK Release Date: 17th March 2014
Distributor: High Fliers
In this film, a group of college kids…. No no no no no! Again? Really? Horror people, I know it’s been a staple of our much maligned genre for the last 40 years or so, and I’m not exactly averse to such a scenario, but if you’re going to do it then at least bring something original to the table. Actually, Eric Wostenberg does indeed do that in this horror movie set in the murky world of pharmaceutical testing, and while it doesn’t exactly re-invent the wheel it does at least give us slavering horror freaks something to enjoy.
Greg (Travis Van Winkle) and Rob (John Bregar) need money. With a lack of opportunities in the conventional way of funds, they pay a visit to a testing clinic where they meet Dr. Wilcox (Tricia Helfer) who after assuring them there will be no anal probes, woos them with the prospect of earning $3150 dollars for 14 days spent testing an anti-allergy drug. As they check in to the facility their mobile phones are confiscated along with a bottle of booze that Greg was attempting to sneak in. It seems on the face of it a fairly strictly run establishment with strict curfews and an authoritarian style of management. The boys are relieved though to get acquainted with the friendly Nigel (Rik Young), a veteran of trials who sports this history with a forearm that has more tracks than Piccadilly Station.
Lunch gives them further opportunity to meet the other ‘residents’, but the more they talk to people the more they feel out of place as they seem to be the only newbies in a crowd of regular trialers. The following day sees the first dose administered without any issues, although the second part of this is more of an event with a drip attached as well as a heart monitor. The dose also seems to result in a series of violent bowel movements which are all bagged and recorded for analysis, giving the movie a welcome dose of toilet humour. As the trial continues however, strange events begin to happen – worms in meals, emaciated rabbits in hallways, cockroaches running amok and the like. Something, somewhere is decidedly not as it should be.
What begins as a fairly light-hearted ‘college kids need to raise some cash’ film, soon descends into a quite dark and menacing feature about when genetic experimentation is taken to extreme. It poses interesting questions with regard to how far we would go in order to achieve success in science, even if it meant causing harm to human lives. From the outset this appeared to be a ten a penny DTV movie, but I really feel it made the step up from that thanks to good writing and a well-structured and nicely paced film.
The breakdown in relationship between best buddies Greg and Rob is particularly interesting, but generally the dynamic between all eight patients that are on the trial is done plausibly and with great effect. As we entered the final third I made a few allowances for things becoming a little bit far-fetched with a few scenes of notable eye-rolling, but generally speaking I found The Last Experiment to be a well-acted and surprisingly original piece of genre entertainment.
6 out of 10