The Last Light (2014) Review – Thriller/Drama But Not Horror?

The Last Light is a good film that is as hard to find as a half decent Taylor Swift song. First, I’ll tell you how I came across this film. I really enjoy a particular YouTube channel called ‘Good Bad Flicks’ and he reviewed a film called ‘House of the Dead 2’. The only bit of that film that I saw was a clip containing one of my favourite Power Rangers, Daniel Southworth. It was only about 2 minutes as he didn’t last long. But another actor in this film (that Good Bad Flicks pointed out to me) is a sadly little known actor, the deliciously hunky, Ed Quinn.

What is additionally sad is that he didn’t really get a chance to stretch his acting muscles as ‘House of the Dead 2’ is kind of a goofy movie but ‘The Last Light’ is very enjoyable and proves that Ed Quinn is a really good actor. Yeh, he’s been in a lot of shitty movies and by ‘shitty movies’, I don’t mean bad movies. I’m talking about the kind of movies whose ambitions are bigger than the budget. ‘The Asylum’ is the best way to describe the kinds of movies I’m talking about. They’re entertaining in their own way but other movies have not necessarily done it better but have looked better. I’m trying to be as diplomatic as I can.

Anyway, ‘The Last Light’ is not one of these movies. Even though, given the plot, it should be dubbed as ‘horror’ it’s actually described as a drama and a thriller. Maybe IMDB should have thrown in ‘psychological’ before thriller as this movie loves to fuck with the audience. Of course, I’ve seen a lot of movies and predicted a lot of the twists but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. Having said that, the ending did throw me.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s do some plot.

Seven people are trapped in a hospital after an apocalypse of some description occurs. Drama ensues. That’s it. Literally. But this is the best kind of plot for a horror/thriller/drama film as it’s so basic that the character’s can grow from there. There’s a good excuse to never go outside and it’s great to cause conflict among the characters. Speaking of, let’s talk about some characters.

Ed Quinn has top of the billing therefore he plays the main character, Jack. He’s the leader of the group because he’s the most handsome… I mean he’s got the shotgun. Since he’s the leader, he has a lot of respect from the others… all except one, Jeffrey (Seth David Mitchell). Jeffrey has a problem with Jack right at the start of the movie and spends his screen time trying to de-throne him. Among the other are; rebel girl, Ashley (Yvonne Zima), head chef, Harold (Jeff Fahey), creepy person, Meryl (Molly Hagan), nice girl, Jenny (Tahyna MacManus) and basement dweller, Noah who’s played by one of my favourite actors, Edward Furlong. As film buffs know, Edward Furlong is best known for his role as John Connor in ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)’. I have to say, for the few scenes that he had, Edward Furlong’s performance was exceptional and he hasn’t lost his magic from ‘T2’.

‘The Last Light’ goes for the best way of telling a character’s backstory which is, they don’t. Whilst some aspects of the character’s pasts are revealed, it’s so vague that it’s basically left up to the audience to decide how they want to delve into their stories.

I’m going to go into some spoilers now. Normally, I’d say ‘go and watch the film’ but there in, we face a problem. I read the synopsis of this movie on IMDB and really wanted to watch it but couldn’t find the DVD as there is a more recognisable film with the same title and I just kept getting those results when I tried to search for it. It’s not on Amazon Prime, or Netflix. Therefore, I had to stream it which I don’t like doing at all. I can’t find any evidence that this film was released in theatres, not even a limited release. It doesn’t even have a page on Wikipedia. Obviously, this is a direct to DVD thingy but see if you can find a DVD of it. So yeah, spoilers.

One night after dinner, the group have a sort of game night that they are really excited for. They pick a suggestion out of a hat and Harold asks everyone to tell the rest of the group about the best day of their lives. Harold’s best day was the birth of his son and I loved Jeff Fahey’s performance during this scene. He really gives the impression that he is a proud father but then realises that his family is gone. Ashley’s best day was the day she left home as she hated her parents, much the chagrin of Meryl. That plot point will come up later on. Jenny’s best day was when she was promoted in her company but Jeffrey’s best day is the most sinister. His best day was when his father lost his fortune and Jeffrey took him in. His father always had a power over him but on that day, the roles were reversed and he loved that. Just then, they hear the creatures above and have to stay quiet.

The brief synopsis for this film was deceptive at best. It reads, ‘Seven strangers find themselves trapped inside an abandoned hospital after an unexplainable apocalyptic event. In addition to being haunted by what they’ve lost, the strangers must also fight off mysterious creatures that hunt them down one by one’.

First of all, they’re not all strangers to each other. They’ve been living together for an undisclosed amount of time and so must know a little bit about each other. They’re strangers to the audience but then again, isn’t that the same for the start of every film.

Second, the only one being haunted by what they’ve lost is Jack. Every night, Jack has a nightmare about his wife and their life before the apocalypse and it’s always the same. He sees his wife standing in front of a bathtub saying something like, ‘Come towards the light, Jack’. That last light, maybe?

Thirdly, the creatures don’t pick off the strangers one by one. In fact, we never see the monsters and for a movie on a $400,000 budget, that’s probably a good idea. The only kind of creatures that we see are on the film poster.

The film sets the right kind of atmosphere with it’s dark, claustrophobic surroundings which is in-keeping with the films budget. The director understood the first rule of film-making, if you’ve got a small budget, don’t be over-ambitious. Also at the start of the movie, there’s an overlay that says ’86 Days’, presumably meaning 86 days since the apocalypse began but this is not the case. The number of days starts counting down and the finale of the film happens on Day 0.

Of course these small, cramped spaces are going to drive everyone absolutely crazy eventually and the first one to snap is Meryl but she was completely batshit before the apocalypse. Earlier on, she grabs Jeffrey’s stuff and starts packing it all into a suitcase, saying that they are leaving. She’s also calling him ‘Mitch’. This is clearly her son and she’s having an episode. Jack and Jenny snap her out of hit and don’t think anything of it. But things go wrong from there. Meryl grabs Jack’s shotgun and points it directly at him, demanding the key to the front door. When Jack asks her if she’s going to find Mitch, Meryl says that Mitch is dead because she suffocated him in his sleep when he was only 7 years old. She did this because she thought that he was old enough to start thinking about leaving her. Jack throws the key on the floor and when she’s distracted, that’s when he grabs the shotgun and shoots her. Everyone screams and the look on Jack’s face makes it seem like he was shocked by his own actions.

Jack and Harold drag her body into the ‘east wing’ which is forbidden territory but Jack goes in there anyway without telling the others. The reason being that there is a room in there that is similar to his nightmares and he’s trying to find some answers. This leads to Jeffrey’s demise.

Jeffrey doesn’t want Jack to be the leader of the group for some reason probably because of jealousy and his need for power. Jack offers up a vote for the leader and they all pick Jack. Jeffrey tails Jack to the east wing and confronts him with a tire iron for protection against the monsters and to beat up Jack. Jack swiftly disarms him and breaks his leg with the tire iron. Just then, they hear the creatures. Despite Jeffrey’s cries for help, Jack leaves him for dead.

The rest of the character’s don’t fair much better. Jenny is left behind on a food run; Ashley is killed by the monsters, Harold walks through the front door and Jack… well.

Once he’s all alone, Jack goes to the east wing and faces… himself. His other self tells him that he needs to remember what he’s done and this is the only way to ‘go to the light’. Now I’m getting it. Turns out, Jack’s wife committed suicide in the bathtub because Jack was a neglectful and naughty husband. The final shot of Jack is him standing alone in the east wing, denying that this is the man he is.

Let me tell you about my predictions for this film and why I knew this was going to happen and it all centres around Edward Furlong’s character, Noah. Every now and again, Jack goes down to the basement to talk to Noah and he basically comforts Jack about all the things that happened such as Meryl and Jeffrey’s deaths. Giving that only Jack interacts with Noah and never mentions him in front of the other characters, it’s sound reasoning that Noah isn’t real and is a creation of Jack’s fragile mind. That’s sort of true.

The end of the film is Noah in the hospital office, sorting through files and one of them has Jack’s name on it. Also, Jack is notified in an obituary, showing that he is in fact dead.

I think that this ending is a bit flimsy but I’ll try and make some sense of it. Clearly, the character’s have done seriously bad things in the past and this place is a purgatory of some description or maybe limbo. The only way to ‘go to the light’ is to accept what they’ve done so they can move on and the monsters are demons. Maybe. That’s what they look like on the film poster. I don’t know. It’s not as bullshit and confusing as the ending of ‘Cell (2016)’ but it’s not perfection either.

I would seriously recommend that this film get a proper DVD release because it’s better than some of the other cock out there. Just goes to show, small budget = good stories/enjoyable movie.

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