Zombie Movie Review: Last of the Living (2008)
Against all odds this flick is actually pretty damn enjoyable. This is definitely a low budget project but due to solid performances, a fast pace, and well placed humor this LAST OF THE LIVING ends up being a pretty fun flick.
The story revolves around three buddies, Morgan (Morgan Wlliams), Johnny (Robert Faith), and Ash (Ashleigh Southam) hanging out and having a good time during the zombie apocalypse. We never saw how the apocalypse occurred, but judging by the three guys it must have happened at least a year or two ago, and it was caused by a virus. Every once in a while the guys go out to gather food, DVDs, and some kick ass music. They are essentially chillin’ their way through the apocalypse enjoying a lot of male bonding!! Their weapons of choice: a baseball bat, a golf club, and one uses two sticks as though he were a martial arts expert (well at least he is in his mind!!). The guys keep to themselves and have no intention of looking around for more survivors or being any kind of heroes … that is until they run into cute scientist Stef (Emily Paddon-Brown) who’s trying to find a specific blood sample in order to bring it to an island where others are working on a cure to reverse the zombie virus. So the guys decide to “man up” and help Stef find the blood sample and hopefully win her over at the same time.
The success of this flick rests squarely on the three guys. They’re all likable “real guys” who interact well with each other and who all at one time or another play the role of hero, straight man, and comedic relief. In one scene the group is holed up in a hospital trying to find the elusive blood sample. At night they sleep in shifts, and each guy takes a turn staying up with Stef as she synthesizes the blood sample. It’s a really funny scene watching each guy make their move on Stef and shitting all over each other as they try and win her affections. We get solid performances from everyone and even though I wouldn’t call this a straight up zombie-comedy, there’s some really well-placed comedy that doesn’t over shadow the horror aspects of the film.
Unfortunately the low budget is obvious in every scene. Part of the problem is that first time writer, producer, editor, and director Logan McMillan’s (he even appears as a vegan zombie in the film) inexperience overcomes what he wants to accomplish. It looked as though McMillan didn’t squeeze every penny from his modest budget and get it up on the screen. Instead of a city overrun with zombies we only get a few zombies here and there; the zombie makeup is pretty amateurish; and there’s a noticeable lack of gore. The zombies themselves are also inconsistent. Some of them run while others only do the “Romero-shuffle”; some zombies scream out when they’re killed and others are silent. But this isn’t a complete criticism on McMillan’s abilities. He does a pretty damn good job with what he has and he nicely covers the three areas where most indie horror films fail: He has a solid script, he keeps everything moving along at a nice pace, and he has good actors. If only ALL indie horror flicks covered these bases!!
You can make the argument that this is a zombie-comedy. I could be completely wrong, but I didn’t feel as though McMillan was going for another Shaun of the Dead here. But regardless, the humor works (no thanks to the three main guys). Just wait until you see one of our guys do a move he calls “The Berserker”; this is where he extends his arms out and twirls around really fast (like a helicopter), knocking down zombies left and right. It’s absolutely hilarious and had me laughing out loud. In the end the modest budget slightly hurts this film, but due to the acting, dialogue, and pacing I’m recommending it. McMillan notes that 90% of the film was shot for $5,000 and from that footage he put together the trailer. The trailer was put on YouTube and as a result they got another $40K as part of the pre-sales deal. I’m excited to see what McMillan comes up with next. If only there was a little more over-the-top gore!! But if you like zombie movies you’ll enjoy this one; I’ve seen waaaay worse. Check it out.
Director: Logan McMillan (also writer, producer, editor, & actor)
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 3 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer