Last of the Living (2009)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2012-03-31 01:03

Written and directed by: Logan McMillan
Starring: Morgan Williams, Robert Faith, Ashleigh Southam & Emily Paddon-Brown

Reviewed by: Brett H.

"It's called 'The Berserker'. If it's done properly, it's impossible to defend against!"

Stop and think about it - how many zombie apocalypses have you survived? It almost makes you wonder how these same films keep getting made over and over again, oftentimes one right after the other. For what must be the twentieth time, I'm about to witness the end of the world in this dime a dozen subgenre. It's not that I'm not eager to check it out; ever since Biohazardous overrun the shelves at the now extinct Movie Gallery, I've made a point to pick up any strays that happen to come my way. It's true that I enjoy them for what they are, perhaps even more than I should, but I could go more than a lifetime without having to sit through another Biohazardous. Bring on the horde!

Three buddies sit around their mansion all day playing video games and trading insults back and forth. The only problem is the mansion isn't theirs, but hell, living where you want is one of the many perks of surviving a zombie holocaust. We've got Morgan (Morgan Williams), the annoying guy who tries too hard, Ash (Ashleigh Southam), the brunt of all the jokes and Johnny (Robert Faith), the rock n' roll badass who marches to the beat of his own drum and like Woody Harrelson in Zombieland, enjoys killing the undead a little too much. While out on the town, the sex-starved boys encounter one of the last women on earth. Unfortunately for these goofs, she's got even more brains than she's got boobs and is a scientist that has discovered the cure to the zombie plague. Armed with hockey equipment, a mean machine armored muscle car and a few Louisville Sluggers, the boys are out to get the girl... and save the world!

Last of the Living was made for a mere $5000, getting its budget amped up to ten times that amount after the trailer left an impression on Youtube. Hitching a ride on the Shaun of the Dead train, this New Zealand horror comedy leans more towards the side of humor than horror and certainly won't impress zombiegeddon veterans in terms of carnage or severed limbs. Rather than zombies eating a bunch of cruddy latex brains, the filmmakers use theirs to give the viewer the impression they're watching a film with a slightly higher budget. Instead of overdoing violence with unrealistic effects, quick cuts and camera angles are used to portray the brutality in a humorous and efficient manner.

As a sombre tune plays, Morgan walks the streets alone to start the film off and within 15 minutes the viewer will know whether or not to continue on till the end or let the zombies win and shut it off. Its a great, almost introspective opening that then introduces us to the characters who drive the film from start to finish with witty (and not so witty) dialogue and actions. The three guys are all right characters played with various degrees of success. Ash and Johnny play second fiddle to Morgan, but if I had to live with these three guys until I expired, Morgan would have me pondering running head-on into the horde. Like a bird that won't stop chirping, he's constantly trying to impress or get a, often forced, laugh at the expense of the mellow and cautious Ash.

Johnny? He's great. Anyone who'd get on top of a rooftop and play his guitar as a fuck you to a zombie horde would have to be. Then he's got his patented whirlwind-style 'berserker' punch that has never worked in a zombie attack or a boxing match, but that won't stop him from trying it every chance he gets. Those looking for vibrancy won't find it here, there is nary a red in sight as the desaturated, grainy look let's you know exactly which decade it was produced in. I'm not against this Saw or Texas Chainsaw Remake raw appearance, but I question its relevance in a film where comedy takes centre stage over gore or shock. Gorehounds will have to look elsewhere; other than pale looking, bloody zombies and a CGI head smash, there isn't a whole lot offered, but does suffice. Many hard objects ricochet off the heads of zombies and drop them like wet pairs of gotch for a laugh, which is much better than using cheesy effects that take a viewer out of the film, causing them to laugh at it instead of with it. The ending does come up short and feels abrupt, but it is also a bit gut wrenching at the same time.

If you're the type of person who thinks if you've seen one zombie day of reckoning you've seen them all, Echo Bridge's budget DVD will be of no use to you. The picture is clear, and exactly as intended, grainy and dull in anamorphic 2.40:1 widescreen. Audio serves just as well, but no subtitles are included which means you'll not be able to understand a line of dialogue here and there through the thick accents. If you're the bargain hunter type, the DVD is also available as a flipper on a set with three other low budget films (I am Omega, Awaken the Dead and Grave Mistake). Last of the Living isn't the last in line when it comes to the indie zombie scene, not by far. In fact, I laughed out loud a few times and can say with certainty low budget zombie lovers will get a kick out of this one. Rent it!

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