04th Jul2024

‘Last Night on Earth’ VOD Review

by Jim Morazzini

Stars: Leven Rambin, Jake McLaughlin, Dee Wallace, Shane West, Sohvi Rodriguez | Written and Directed by Marcos Efron

Opening with a quote from Carl Sagan, “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is made bearable only through love” Last Night on Earth then shows us a brief glimpse of a couple and their young son camping. The man seems troubled, the woman so obviously upset that the boy asks his father about it. “She’s just tired” he replies unconvincingly.

Nearby, Holly (Leven Rambin; The Hunger Games, Lost Child) and Ryan (Jake McLaughlin; The Day the Earth Stood Still, Safe House) are staying in a trailer. They seem happy, although there are hints to the contrary scattered through their conversations and actions. A flashback to a party only heightens the feeling.

Writer/director Marcos Efron (And Soon the Darkness, The Pink Château) teases the viewer, making it clear that something is very wrong with the world we are seeing, but not giving any clues as to what that is. And if you actually did manage to sit down to watch Last Night on Earth without knowing the plot, you would be in the dark until he chose to reveal it.

Even after the couple follow a stray dog to a campsite and find the family we saw at the beginning dead by suicide, there’s no clue why. A woman who knew them, Carla (Dee Wallace; Critters, House of Dolls), isn’t shocked at the news, she just calmly leads a group prayer for their souls. Eventually another couple Gene (Shane West; Echelon Conspiracy, Maneater) and Gabby (Sohvi Rodriguez; Animal Kingdom, Crazy Bitches) who seem friendly, a little too much so.

Much of the film’s first half plays as a character-driven drama, with this sense of impending but unknown doom hanging over it. Finally, it’s revealed that an eighteen-mile-long asteroid named Mazzic is about to impact Earth, possibly as punishment for the man bun Ryan sports in the flashback scenes. Since everyone is going to die, Holly and Ryan have come up here to spend what time they have left together in peace. And for about the first hour it looks like they will.

The one real problem I had with Last Night on Earth up until that point was the way it tells its story. The constant cutting back and forth is annoying and continually breaks the film’s momentum. The material itself is quite good, but it would have been better served with a more straightforward presentation that had longer sequences with less cutting back and forth.

Others may find the lack of any scenes of large-scale rioting and looting an issue, but Efron stages some effective smaller-scale disorder, at one point with an Alex Jones-type radio host screaming that it’s all a hoax and a plot by the deep state to take everyone’s guns. That’s probably the most accurate depiction of how it would happen in the movie.

Finally, with a half-hour left in the film, and six hours until Armageddon, the film switches gears and becomes a thriller. As Holly gets kidnapped and Ryan, who was left for dead, races to find her. This would have played a lot better if it didn’t stop dead in its tracks, so Carla could deliver a message about God and prayer, a scene which lasts almost as long as the chase through the dark woods and shootout with the villains.

In the end, Last Night on Earth, is an interesting end-of-the-world drama that stumbles when it tries to become a thriller. And as odd as it is for me to say it, it might well have been better if it had stayed a drama. Especially in the final minutes with a final confrontation that fizzles before going to an ending that is either poignant or sappy, depending on your level of cynicism. It’s still a decent, if flawed, film for the most part though and could be worth a watch as long as you know what you’re getting.

**½  2.5/5

Uncork’d Entertainment released Last Night on Earth to VOD and Digital Platforms on July 2nd.
______

Review originally posted on Voices From the Balcony

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.