31st Aug2015

Frightfest 2015: ‘Last Girl Standing’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Akasha Villalobos, Danielle Evon Ploeger, Brian Villalobos, JD Carrera, Ryan Hamilton, Kelsey Pribilski, Laura Ray, Chris J. Knight | Written and Directed by Benjamin R. Moody

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Five years ago, a masked killer brutally murdered a group of friends. Since then, Camryn, the lone survivor, has tried to make sense of the homicidal events and struggled to reclaim her shattered life. Wracked with guilt and paranoia, can Camryn ever have a normal existence again or is she destined to cope alone forever?

Not only has the idea of strong female protagonists been a key part of this years Frightfest, but it would seem the slasher movie, so often decried even by genre fans, has also made a massive comeback this year. But not in the blood-by-numbers way it existed in the past. This year has seen the tropes of the slasher movie used in thrillers, comedies, even a voodoo movie, the genre’s influence has certainly been felt far and wide at Frightfest 2015.

Thankfully the slasher movie itself has had something a reinvention this year too, often taking the conventions we’re so used to and changing them for the better. In some cases, like Suspension, re-writing the slasher handbook altogether. But Last Girl Standing takes it to the next level in a film that begins where the classic slasher movie ends… Now I’ve seen many a slasher movie in my time, but beyond a few sequels that continued the final girls’ story (like the early Friday the 13th movies), we’ve never really found out what effect the trauma of surviving a mass murder has on the heroine. So what does happen to the final girl once the credits have rolled? That’s a question posed (and answered) by Last Girl Standing.

Part slasher movie, part character study, this is a very bleak movie. Some might say too bleak. Given the fact we exepct our final girl to go on and live a happy life, what happens inĀ Last Girl Standing makes for uncomfortable viewing. There’s always the expectation that slasher movies are like fairy tales, in that no matter what our “heroes” go through, there’s always sunshine after the darkness. The fact that, it turns out, that is not the case for Camryn leaves audiences questioning whether that is the case for all those final girls… It’s not totally new ground of course, when Jaime Lee Curtis’ character came back for Halloween H20 we discovered that being a survivor left scars – both physical and emotional – but the extent to which Camryn suffers is both remarkable, and remarkably sorrowful.

Last Girl Standing not only presents us with a new take on the slasher genre, but it does so in a way that also plays with the audience understanding of the genre, allowing us to think one way whilst taking the story in another, leaving the viewer at unease. Undoubtedly as uneasy as the films heroine. And amazingly, for a film that is set AFTER the events of a slasher movie. this film makes even the goriest of slasher movies look like light and fluffy fare in comparison. What unspools on screen is also all the more brutal given the protagomist of this particular tale.

To say more about Last Girl Standing would be to do the film a diservice. This is a movie that needs to tell its story unhampered by any expectations or any pre-conceived notions. This is the start of a new tale, Camryn’s tale. The killer is dead. The final girl lives on…

**** 4/5

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