Last of the Living
Now this is totally what I mean when I say I hope there’ll be a new cineastic fashion along with Zombieland. The flair is in Last of the Living, though there were clearly some zeros less on the budget. This is a true amateur/low budget production, and has all the good things – barely/non-authorized filming in public places (from what I read, most street/city scenes were filmed on the morning of christmas – that’s dedication!), cheap (but certainly not all bad) make up, amateur actors, soundtrack (and outro credit performance) by local band… But even better, the camera and cut was all but n00bish, someone did a real good job there.
The PG18 rating was certainly not forced on the movie, I more think it’s for marketing purposes. Its not overly gory, and a lot splatter close ups were left out. That’s where the real good camera work shows. You don’t expect an exploding body in every scene because of the way the entire movie is filmed. Cuts, scene switches and such are well done, too. I admit I compared a bit to Goremet here, and that set a whole new low standard, so really ANYTHING looks well done in the face of it. But still, Last of the Living is solid work; a b-movie for the sake of missing budget, not missing talent.
The story is quickly told. 6 months ago, the outbreak turned all New Zealand (and the rest of the world, I assume) into zombies, except for a few survivors. Our main characters are the self-proclaimed womanizer Morgan, the geeky Ashleigh and the rock band guitarist Johnny. It’s not spoken out, but from flashbacks and dialogues it can be assumed that Ash is Morgan’s younger brother, and they met Johnny about 2 months after the outbreak.
Now, that sounds kinda stereotype. It is, and that’s totally cool. All three are losers in their own way. Morgan makes comments that he was working as an actor before everyone became a zombie; sweet and intentional irony that he says he was a great actor and Ash starts laughing at him. From the quality of the acting, I’d say Ash and Johnny are clearly better than the rest of the cast; however, Morgan isn’t as bad as other reviews claim. Ash is the type of geek you’d really expect to survive an outbreak. He’s not too cowardly, but still careful and tries to protect himself with logic. He’s the only of the survivors wearing “gear” when they go zombie bashing, to show less skin the zombies could bite, for example. Johnny, much older than the two brothers, is stereotype rock’n’roll. His solution to everything is chips’n’beer, and he doesn’t mind much to run into a house full of zombies and beat the crap out of them with whatever he finds on the way. My favourite Johnny line has to be when he’s asked if he thinks the zombie issue would be in the way to make his band famous, and he says he’s the only surviving member, but doesn’t really see that as a problem because most bands sold more records after being dead anyways.
These three have no claim to save the world or anything. They break in houses, take what they need from shops, play video games and that’s about it. When they decide the current house is too boring, they drive around to find a better one and come to a church that is surrounded by zombies. They correctly assume there are survivors hiding in the church and go to help them (mainly because Morgan hopes there’s a hot chick). They find a scientist and his daughter Steph, both were working on a cure for the zombies. The father gets bitten, Steph makes it to escape with the trio, but loses the blood sample needed for the cure. To get a new one, they have to go to the hospital where she used to work, extract a new one and put it in some machine. Obviously, the hospital is full of zombies.
In a world that was overran by living dead 6 months ago, its also no big surprise the power goes out while the machine is running. Morgan and Ash fight their way to the basement where they can activate an emergency generator, while Johnny stays in the lab with Steph and defends the blood sample. Morgan and Ash are trapped in the basement; here we get some character scenes that lead to my guess they are brothers; before they can escape through a tunnel or tube or something. Elsewhere, Johnny and Steph escape from the lab, with the blood sample, and they face 30 zombies surrounding their car. While Morgan comes up with a silly plan to just make a run for the car, Johnny offers to distract them since he got bitten and will turn into a zombie within an hour himself. For an amateur script, that’s a real great and touching sacrifice scene and I didn’t even think about Hard Rock Zombies when Johnny gives Steph a tape with his latest songs and asks her to take it to the right people when all this is over. A beautiful detail is that he goes down fighting, and its the first time his self-invented boxing move works (at least for a while).
The 3 survivors continue their way to an airport to bring the blood sample to an island where other scientists work on the cure. Stupid problem – Steph, the only one who can fly a plane, gets bitten. The flight will only take 40 minutes, and she has an hour before she turns into a zombie, so we are a bit in a hurry now. On the airport, Morgan almost sacrifices himself to let Steph and Ash escape, but finally makes it to jump in the plane last minute. And now, as you probably already expected, Steph becomes a zombie during the flight and Ash has to use his knowledge from video games to land the plane on the island. Here, they find the science camp deserted, and in a quite surprising scene, Morgan falls victim to a sudden zombie attack.
Ash finds a not properly working radio in one of the zombie infested buildings, saying to stay away from the island because there are no survivors. Hunted by his now-zombie brother, he runs to the beach and tries to leave the island with a boat. In the process, he kills Morgan and also loses the blood sample in the water. I’m not sure this is really the best way to end the movie, but Ash becomes the last of the living, escaping on a lonely boat. There would have been more original ways to get there, but I’m not really complaining. The movie makes too much hope for the new zombie movie fashion to really happen, and its way better than most other amateur movies I’ve seen since 1995 or so.
Famous last words: Sequel, please!