All [good] slasher movies have them. The them I’m referring to is, of course, the sole survivor, the last one left, the final girl. The trope of the ‘final girl’ has been explored more deeply in recent years with films like Final Girl and The Final Girls, both appropriately named, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to be done with the idea. That’s exactly what director Ben Moody wanted to show us horror fans with his feature film, Last Girl Standing.
Camryn (Akasha Villalobos) is the sole survivor of a brutal massacre in which her entire group of friends was viciously murdered. After months of therapy and medication, she lives a life in solitude, keeping her head down and to herself. It is now five years later and after meeting Nick (Brian Villalobos), a new co-worker, things begin to spiral out of control, breathing new life into Camryn’s deepest and darkest fears.
I have a tendency to be rather cautious when viewing a new slasher film for the first time. There are so many great entries in the sub-genre from the golden era of the 80’s, but anything past the year 2000 seems to just be another indie flick trying to be a ‘throwback’ in one way or another. So, with much hesitation, I decided to press ‘play’ on Benjamin R. Moody’s Last Girl Standing. From the start, I could already tell I was in for more than just your average independent film; The production quality was far superior to most and I was instantly impressed with the performances playing out before me. Could it be? Have I found a new great slasher film?
The answer, in short, is yes. Last Girl Standing is a worthy entry in my favorite horror sub-genre, but there is also so much more going on here. The film starts off strong, throwing us right into the action of a series of explicit old-fashioned slasher kills. Once our protagonist and main focus of the film, Camryn, is free of her captor, however, things really pump the brakes. This is not necessarily a bad thing, fortunately.
My main gripe with most independent films of the modern era is the lack of a good script and, more importantly, well-thought-out character development and/or progression. Sure, most of these films get the blood and guts down alright, but they are severely lacking where I personally think it counts most — characters that have substance who we also care about. The fact that Ben Moody and his team not only present stunning practical special effects to their audience, but also a character-driven story, proves to me that this group of filmmakers really know what they are doing.
Last Girl Standing features an impressive cast of naturally talented individuals. I’ve never seen any of the cast in films prior to this one, but I was able to breathe a sigh of relief as soon as I realized everyone was more than competent enough to keep my attention for the next 90 minutes. Akasha Villalobos was remarkable as Camryn, the last girl standing, and her chemistry with her on-screen love interest, and real life husband, Brian Villalobos as Nick, made the film that much more enjoyable. Every actor involved with the film did a wonderful job and I can’t remember the last time I was able to say that about a lower-budget indie horror film.
This film is a modern-day slasher film that also happens to fall into the independent drama category. What happens to all of these sole survivors from our favorite hack and slash movies? Last Girl Standing dives into the psyche of one of them and shows us what exactly they have to live with years after their traumatizing ordeals. Can they live a normal life? Watch this bad boy and find out!
Last Girl Standing is a surprisingly great watch and although the film does tend to slow down for the middle third, the final act is more than enough to revitalize your faith in slasher horror flicks. Be sure to pick up a copy on DVD and Digital HD this Tuesday, November 1 from MPI.
I give this one a Repulsive Rating of 4.5 skinned rabbit totems out of 5.