Last Girl Standing

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“In the beginning was the end.”

The horror genre has a tangential connection to the action heroine one, most directly through the concept of the “final girl” – when the last person left alive is a woman who confronts and defeats the threat. From Halloween to Alien, this has been a staple of the genre, but whether it qualifies a film for inclusion here, depends largely on what has gone before. For example, 10 minutes of frantic action at the end can’t counterbalance the first 80, if the focus there was not on a female lead.

Here, we instead jump right to the “final girl” section, with Camryn (A. Villalobos) pursued by a masked psycho known as “The Hunter” (Vines), who has already killed everyone else. She survives, and he is apparently the victim of one of his own traps. Fast forward five years, and understandably, Camryn is still damaged by the events. Shunning the media circus which followed, she now works in a dry-cleaners, all but avoiding human contact and unable to find closure. New colleague, Nick (B. Villalobos) tries to bring Camryn out of her shell, with the help of Danielle (Ploeger), who understands what trauma feels like. But a series of unsettling incidents leave Camryn increasingly convinced she is being stalked again. Is the Hunter really dead, and if not, can she save her friends from him this time?

The key factor here is largely whether what Camryn – and only Camryn – sees can be trusted, or if her sanity has finally cracked. Unlike some, the film does firmly and definitively answer that, and the final 15 minutes have a nicely cyclical nature, with Camryn’s new friends doing a great deal of running and screaming. While I can’t say much more there without spoilerage, until then, the script does a decent job of keeping the two alternate possibilities plausible, helped by the supporting characters. Most amusing there is likely Maelyn, who is firmly convinced Camryn is a loonie – and, to be honest, given a fondness for acts such as smashing bottles on people’s heads, you can see Maelyn’s point.

This does make the growing relationship between Brian and Camryn fairly  implausible, since the latter’s instability seems like a huge red flag – especially without, say, raging hotness which could cause us men to overlook it [Been there, done that, deeply regretted it!] However, it’s an interesting touch to have a husband and wife playing the two leads, perhaps giving things here a needed dash of authenticity. But this is most fun at the blood-soaked end, when Camryn is in full-on “final girl” mode, and the film gets to wallow in some gorey – and non-CGI, I’m pleased to report – mayhem. An earlier commitment to this direction might have been preferred, rather than the over-familiar “is she or isn’t she?” uncertainty. The lead performance was good enough to keep me interested though, and the structure offers some fresh takes, in a genre not exactly noted for them.

Dir: Benjamin R. Moody
Star: Akasha Villalobos, Brian Villalobos, Danielle Evon Ploeger, Jason Vines

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