Review: ‘Last Survivors’ boasts Montana scenery and nuanced performance by Alicia Silverstone
The Times is committed to reviewing theatrical film releases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because moviegoing carries risks during this time, we remind readers to follow health and safety guidelines as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials.
One fascinating side effect of what the world has gone through these last few years is that stories of extreme isolation and social breakdown no longer seem like the stuff of dystopian science fiction. In the drama “Last Survivors,” for example, a father and son hole up in the middle of nowhere, trying to survive as the outside world crumbles. These days, that premise barely feels like fiction.
Stephen Moyer plays the father, Troy, who has raised his son Jake (Drew Van Acker) in a remote cabin in the woods since he was a little boy. Now in his 20s, Jake has been taught how to live off the land, frugally — and he’s been instructed to kill any people who happen by, since they could be among the marauding rogues that Troy says destroyed civilization.
Then Troy gets hurt and while looking for help, Jake finds Henrietta (Alicia Silverstone), a fellow hermit who is much kinder than he’d been led to expect of an outsider. As he spends more time with her, Jake realizes his dad’s joyless, paranoid way of riding out the apocalypse isn’t the only way to go.
Director Drew Mylrea and screenwriter Josh Janowicz have a clear point they want to make with “Last Survivors,” and so too much of the film — including a big plot-twist in the middle — feels over-worked to get to what the movie wants to say about the dangers of overprotective parenting. The story doesn’t really develop organically. There are logical gaps and narrative lurches that are hard to ignore.
What “Last Survivors” does have going for it are some beautiful locations in the chilly Montana wilderness — as well as an incredibly nuanced performance from Silverstone, playing a woman pushed to confront her own biases when she meets Jake, a young man taught to distrust everybody. At its core, this is an earnest movie about how best to endure a crisis: by sharing the load with others, rather than assuming every stranger is an enemy.
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Playing: Starts Feb. 4, Laemmle Monica, Santa Monica; also available on VOD
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