VOD film review: Last Girl Standing
Matthew Turner | On 29, Feb 2016
Director: Benjamin R. Moody
Cast: Akasha Villalobos, Danielle Evon Ploeger, Brian Villalobos
Certificate: 18 (tbc)
Watch Last Girl Standing online in the UK: Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Sky Store / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Written and directed by Benjamin R.Moody, this engaging indie horror takes an intriguing look at what happens to the last person left alive after the end of a typical slasher movie. It’s a clever idea, executed with an attention to character that lifts it above the usual horror fare.
Akasha Villalobos (who bears a notable resemblance to Shelley Duvall) stars as Camryn, a young woman who’s left traumatised, after surviving an attack by a masked killer named The Hunter, in which all her friends were murdered. Five years later, Camryn keeps herself to herself, holding down a day job in a dry-cleaners and barely speaking to anyone, but her protective shell begins to crack when she meets kind 20-something Nick (Brian Villalobos), who introduces her to his circle of arty friends.
However, Camryn remains tormented by her ordeal and becomes convinced that The Hunter is back from the dead and means to take her new friends as revenge for his death at her hands (as seen in the opening five minutes). Needless to say, Nick’s friends think Camryn is going insane, but help is at hand in the form of Nick’s sympathetic roommate, Danielle (Ploeger), who attempts to help Camryn work through her trauma, even if that means assisting in a spot of late-night grave-digging.
Akasha Villalobos is superb as Camryn, portraying her with believable skittishness and heart-breaking vulnerability, as well as conveying a touching note of hope, as she begins to respond to the kindness of her new friends. The supporting cast are equally good, particularly Brian Villalobos as Nick and Danielle Evon Ploeger, who both deliver likeable, thoughtful performances.
Moody’s direction is assured throughout, particularly in his use of natural-sounding dialogue, which gives the film the feel of a mumblecore movie and makes the characters feel a lot more rounded than the usual slasher movie caricatures. Similarly, the film delivers nicely on its premise, raising some interesting ideas about PTSD and the imagined care that might be available to someone in Camryn’s position – in a nice touch, she tells Danielle she was offered “counselling and a shit-load of drugs”, which leads to a scene in which they bond over anti-depressants and personal tragedy.
On top of that, Moody handles the various hallucination sequences nicely, delivering some decent shock moments before events take the expected turn for the worse later on. This is heightened by Travis Jones’ impressively polished cinematography, which goes a long way towards disguising the presumably low budget, as well as some simple, but nicely executed, gore effects.
Last Girl Standing’s success lies in the director’s skilful blending of both the horror elements and the indie drama sensibility – oh, go on then, let’s call it mumblegore – resulting in an entertaining and refreshingly empathetic film that marks its writer-director out as a definite talent to watch.
Last Girl Standing is one of the new wave of films released on VOD through Icon and FrightFest’s digital banner, FrightFest Presents. For more information on the other titles available, click here – or keep up to speed with our FrightFest Presents Month.