AUGUST 17, 2009
I like short movies. You give me a movie under 80 minutes and it’s almost a guarantee that it won’t end up in the Crap bin, at the very least. And I ESPECIALLY like movies like The Last Resort, which promise a short running time anyway (75 minutes, according to the DVD case), but are actually shorter (it’s actually 74, with a full minute of black at the end credits, so now we’re at 73 with credits. So the actual movie is like, 65 minutes tops). Horror Movie A Day-ing is a time consuming process, so if a movie can offer me an extra 20-30 minutes of free time, I am in its corner.
I also, as you all know, enjoy batshit movies, and this one ultimately certainly qualifies. Ironically, my one real complaint about it is that the movie is TOO short, leaving the batshittedness confined to the film’s final few scenes. America Olivo’s heroine character doesn’t arrive at the titular locale until the 56 minute mark, and it’s over 10-11 minutes later. Her arrival is essentially the end of the 2nd act, but the 3rd act is rushed through. Granted, this makes the insanity even more enjoyable, because it all happens so fast, but still, a little breathing room or simply a longer sequence of events would have been nice. The true nature of the place is also sort of left under-explained; I wasn't sure if the girls were possessed by the spirit of the World's Most Interesting Man-esque guy we see in flashbacks, or if they simply went crazy.
But like I said, this compression allows for some truly memorable moments. See, the resort is a place for people to let go of the restrictions they have placed on themselves (so the reserved girl becomes a nymphomaniac, and the vegetarian becomes a cannibal, etc), and since Olivo just got there, she’s not overwhelmed by its power. So she stumbles across the nympho girl, who violently attempts to seduce her. It’s a wacky enough scene as is, but then the girl who turned into a psycho killer (as she was the straight-laced, “lets avoid dangerous situations” girl of the group) suddenly comes out of nowhere and begins slashing away at the nympho. If the movie was taking its time, these moments would have been separated, but by combining them, we have some truly inspired, fairly unique lunacy.
I also love how the girls, even before they start turning, seem to hate each other. It’s a bachelorette party, and the one getting married is kind of a bitch. She manages to insult each one of them in quite hurtful ways throughout the movie, culminating in a scene where she brutally mocks one girl - first she says “No wonder your boyfriend cheats on you”, followed by “Those guys didn’t even want to rape you!”, which in a weird way is probably the meanest thing someone could say to a woman. Like Cathy’s Curse, it’s a slice of that rare form of wholly unnecessarily mean-spirited dialogue that I can’t help but love.
Quick question - why are fortune tellers in horror movies always right? Early on, they go see one, and of course she gets the “I see disturbing events in the near future” riff. Just for once, I want to see a fortune teller scene in which the teller is like “Everything will be fine, you’ll marry a guy named Robert, and live in Des Moines” or whatever, and then the girl walks outside and gets hit by a bus or something. Because come on, if these tellers are so good at their job, why are they operating on the side of the road near shitty Mexican bars?
Surprisingly for a low-budget film, Lionsgate actually bothered to give it an anamorphic transfer. And it’s quite good in terms of contrast and such. Unfortunately, the DV (HD?) camera used isn’t the best, so there’s little detail in the shots, plus a strange artifacting on edges that makes it look somewhat like you’re watching a 3D film without the glasses. So I guess it just didn’t look that great to begin with, but kudos to LG for putting time into making sure it didn’t look WORSE. Instead, they half-assed their trailer reel; instead of new (and multiple) releases, they just offer Frontieres (on DVD for over a year) and The Slaughter, which I watched almost two years ago and was already on DVD for a while at that point to boot. Luckily, I just got a whole bunch of LG screeners (including one called War Wolves, which is the best title ever and I can’t believe it hasn’t been used before), so I don’t need a heads up to know what kind of junk is en route.
By no means is The Last Resort a great movie, but it’s an entertaining one. I heard there were some production problems, and some financial stuff that resulted in further problems in post (which may explain both the misspelling of Olivo’s name and the odd fact that the film has no copyright/MPAA/ “All rights reserved” legal language at the end of the credits), so I can cut it some slack for its blemishes. Plus, it’s too short to bore, and its somewhat generic setup (it feels VERY Turistas-y at times) is redeemed by the gonzo finale. And the backstory carries shades of Clive Barker’s novel “Coldheart Canyon”, which I quite enjoy and will probably never become a film, so this is a nice little consolation.
What say you?