DVD REVIEW: THE LAST SURVIVORS (AKA THE WELL) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: THOMAS S. HAMMOCK / SCREENPLAY: JACOB FORMAN, THOMAS S. HAMMOCK / STARRING: HALEY LU RICHARDSON, BOOBOO STEWART, JOHN GRIES / RELEASE DATE: MAY 4TH
Essentially an attempt to relocate the current vogue for teen sci-fi into the post-apocalyptic landscape, The Last Survivors neither convinces us enough of its catastrophe to make us really believe in the situation, nor makes us care enough about its protagonists to mind terribly much whether they continue to survive. Which is a shame, as the basic premise should give us plenty to explore and the locations used are beautifully desolate.
Ten years after the last rain has fallen, we meet Kendal (Richardson), a young girl who dreams of escaping the drought-stricken valley in which she and three of her friends were left behind when humanity perished. As she struggles to find the last part that will make airborne the plane that is concealed at the hideaway of the very young and very independent Alby (Max Charles), we see her closest friend Dean's (Stewart) kidneys failing, and before long Gabriel (Michael Welch) is co-opted into the militia of Carson (Gries), after the self-appointed tyrant puts the rest of Gabriel’s family to death. Things come to a head when the water in Kendal and Dean’s well runs dry. And that’s about it.
The Last Survivors takes the space inherent in its premise and setting very literally, and whereas most post-apocalyptic tales will tell a bigger story through metaphor, here we have very little beyond the notion that the rain has stopped falling and that the mountains (to which everyone seems to wish to escape, despite never actually doing so) are some kind of sanctuary. The action and dialogue sequences are separated by lengthy interludes that might have been less intrusive, had writer/director Hammock not decided to make Kendal’s confidante Dean bed-ridden and thus leave his principle character with no one to communicate for long sections of the story. The violence – while relatively graphic – is lacking in the consequence the film would like to have engendered. Sadly, it’s all too easy not to care who survives to the end credits.
The acting is respectable enough, if rather limited by the scope of the premise, and the camera work does an excellent job of creating a bleak and inescapably isolated landscape. But we are never given a sense of where the characters came from or how they came to be the ones to survive, and ultimately The Last Survivors seems like little more than an attempt to replicate some of the teenage future-shock of The Hunger Games, but without the resources or inspiration enough to properly embrace the melodrama that would have helped it succeed. Taking itself too seriously without providing enough reason for the audience to follow suit, this is ultimately an interesting and pretty but rather vacuous failure.
Special Features: B-Roll / Two commentaries / Two deleted scenes / Audition footage