Thursday, October 27, 2016

LAST GIRL STANDING (2015) (DVD Review)

LAST GIRL STANDING (2015)
Label: MPI Media Group
Release Date: November 1st 2016 
Duration: 90 Minutes 
Rating: Unrated
Region Code: 1 NTSC
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (
Director: Benjamin R. Moody
Cast: Jason Vines, Akasha Banks Villalobos, Danielle Evon Ploeger, Kelsey Pribilski

Ben Moody's movie Last Girl Standing opens at a point in the story which would usually be the last reel of a classic slasher film, with a final girl Camryn (Akasha Banks Villalobos) on the run from a masked-killer deep in the woods. She's the sole-survivor of a group of friends who have been slaughtered by a masked killer who we will come to know as The Hunter (Jason Vines), a killer wearing a jackalope-cowl, which I thought was unique to say the least if maybe a slight bit comical at first glance. Camryn manages to survive the ordeal when the killer trips one of his own homemade booby-traps in the woods. 

Now five years after the killings, which have become known as the woodland killing spree, Camryn is still deeply scarred by the traumatic experience. She is a wreck of a young woman plagued by paranoia and post-traumatic flashbacks to the murders of her friends. When we catch up to her she is working at a dry cleaners, she keeps to herself, but the new guy at work named Nick (Brian Villalobos) seems to take a liking her. Though she initially turns him down they do end up hanging out at a pool hall after work where she is introduced to his circle of friends, a struggling artist type, the friendly Danielle (Danielle Evon Ploeger) and the sarcastic Maelyn (Kelsey Pribilski), who doesn't much care for Camryn right from the start. Unfortunately Camryn becomes convinced that the masked killer has from her past has come back to haunt her, but this time she will be damned if she will allow the killer to harm her new friends, and she will do anything to protect them. 

I sort of love where this exploration of the slasher movie goes, picking up where the usual slasher ends and asking what happens to the final girl after survives the massacre, what is life like for her in the wake of such a bloody and traumatic event. As such the movie is nicely character based and intimately focused on Camryn's fragile state of mind> She is justifiably awkward in social situations and is prone to acting out in weird ways. As the story plays out Camryn continues to be plagued by nightmares and hallucinations of the killer, you're left  to ask yourself if what she is seeing is real or is a product of her damaged psyche? Which is a question the movie kindly answers in the final bloody reel, though anyone with more than a casual interest in horror movies will probably guess early on what is happening, which is to say that the premise is not wholly original and has been explored previously, though it handles it well and is nicely executed. 

The movie does good work playing with the aftermath of a masked-killer situation for the final girl, with actress Akasha Banks Villalobos turning in one heck of a performance. She comes through as sympathetic and strong but also deeply troubled. Not surprisingly no one walks away from that sort of experience without a few scars of both the physical and psychological variety, and her final girl is classic stuff. Where I think the movie falls short is the clouding of the what-if of the story, it is broadcast well in advance what is happening but this is still a fun watch. Another small detraction would be that despite the initial promise of the somewhat unique premise the movie does fall into the usual slasher tropes, but at the same time I think I would have been a bit disappointed if it hadn't. The kills and gore are good and bloody, and while gore-hounds might not appreciate the relative lack of the viscera in the middle section there is a rapid succession of brutal kills at the end, so it has a nice pay-off. 

Special Features:  

- Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Ben Moody and Producer Rachel Moody
- Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Ben Moody and Actors Akasha Villalobos and Danielle Evon Ploeger
- Making Of (55 Mins) 
- Gag Reel (5 Mins) 
- Fight Rehearsal (6 Mins) 
- Hunter Test Footage (6 Mins) 
- Set Tour (6 Mins)
- Trailer (2 Mins) 

Last Girl Standing a fun watch, a self-aware horror movie that asks the question what happens to the final girl after the closing credits? This is a movie worth seeking out, a solid first film from director Ben Moody with a standout performance from Akasha Banks Villalobos, hope to see more from both in the near future. 

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