Sunday, July 20, 2014

Horror Film Review

The Last Days (2013):  Post-apocalypse flick from Spain that depicts what may be the strangest affliction I've encountered in all my years of movie going.  No zombies, no cannibalism-inducing virus, no alien invasion, no thermonuclear Armageddon.  So what, then?  Folks are scared to venture out of doors, and if they do, they die of fright.  Or something. Unfortunately for us pragmatic science nerds, the physiological mechanics of the ailment aren't explored in any kind of detail.  While this oversight fails to appreciably affect the narrative per se, not knowing the "why" drives me fucking crazy.

Ensconced for months in an office building with his coworkers after the bizarre ailment sweeps Barcelona, Marc (Quim Gutierrez) assists with the tunneling project that will allow them access to the city's subway system.  He's desperate to return home to his girlfriend Julia (Marta Etura) and blackmails the company hatchet man Enrique (Jose Coronado) who procured a portable GPS unit.  (Cell phone towers are out but the satellites are still functional.)  Tunnel complete, the two men set off for Marc's apartment but encounter a number of obstacles, not the least of which are fellow survivors.  I did enjoy the grizzly bear in the church scene.  Not something you see every day. 

Julia's not home.  Marc thinks she might be at her shop in the mall but Enrique insists on going to the hospital where his father is in hospice.  They find the hospital to be a smoldering ruin.  Enrique is devastated and slightly suicidal.  Marc goes on to the mall alone, finds Julia's sister Andrea (Leticia Dolera) who explains that Julia had gone to see her doctor.  From the building across the street from the doctor's office, Marc sees her.  And she sees him.  The problem?  Underground access isn't possible.  Tunnel collapsed.  Yes, you guessed it.  Marc has to go outside and cross the street in order to reach the woman he loves.  Did I mention she's pregnant?  Yeah, you can already see where this is going.  I like to call it generational immunity.  Scientifically questionable, but a convenient plot device. 

The chemistry between Marc and Enrique is magnetic, and while they may have begun their journey as wary rivals, they develop a respect for each other that's just shy of real friendship.  It's fascinating to watch.  Julia, on the other hand, is the opposite of fascinating to watch.  A rather annoying character, if I'm honest.  She's either laughing or crying.  Her sister Andrea was more interesting, but of course she just had to die.

Here's my major complaint:  A person can stand in a glass-walled room and be perfectly fine; however, if that person takes a car from an underground parking garage and drives outside, he dies.  For the love of God, why?  It's these lapses of logic that drag The Last Days down.  The filmmakers may claim artistic license, but by that same token, they could have used artistic license to explain it.  Just make some shit up.  We'd probably buy it.

The Skinny

Acting:  Gutierrez and Coronado nail their performances.  Quite groovy.
Story:  I'm almost 100% certain agoraphobia has never been utilized as a catalyst for a global calamity.  Weird, but...okay.
Direction:  Many opportunities for disaster, including the use of interspersed flashbacks.  All disasters were, however, deftly averted. 
Production Values:  The five million euro budget was used to maximum effect.  Filmed in Spain and Catalonia, it has that certain...European feel about it.  Not cheap, but also not Hollywood gloss either.
Gore/FX:  A dribble of blood here and there.  Nothing to make you upchuck your popcorn.  A great deal of CGI for the wide shots of Barcelona.  I've seen worse.  I've seen much worse.
Scares:  One, sort of.  Nothing to worry your dry cleaner.
Ending:  Truth be told, it confused and confounded me.  Why did the kid have to go?  And why have only one kid?  It's one of those times I'd love to have a chat with the screenwriter.
Verdict:  Should you see The Last Days?  Si.  If you can ignore the scientific silliness, it's worth it for the Marc/Enrique dynamic.  If you're agoraphobic, you may want to pass on this one.

Rating:  3 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment