One of the most common struggles seen with films are film structure or plot points being too flimsy. Without a solid foundation, no amount of talent or special effects can save it. Much like a house, without good bones, it cannot stand on its own. Last Survivors sets the stage for a very strong picture full of suspense, mystery, and drama full of numerous potential twists and turns that present themselves. Instead, they are traded in for subpar plot points and uninteresting, confused characters.
The movie follows Jake (Drew Van Acker), who lives off the grid with his father Troy (Stephen Moyer) in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Jake’s entire world flips upside down when he meets Henrietta (Alicia Silverstone) who offers him a new perspective on life and the state of humanity.
From the very first frame, the cinematography and wild landscape will stop you in your tracks. Artful shots display the gigantic size of the trees, cold feel of the snow, and the bright winter glow in an unruly wooded area. The sparse outdoor setting also highlights the loneliness the characters who live there feel, which helps immerse everyone further into the plot. It’s impossible to deny the handiwork of both the camera operators and director with the creative angles that are utilized throughout.
Drew Mylrea is still fairly new to the film scene, with four writing and seven directing ventures—including this film—under his belt. That being said, Mylrea has an eye for shots that captivate. Beyond that, it can be said that his directing style is effective, given that he had to direct Van Acker while battling Jake’s multiple facets. However, there is clear room for improvement. The chemistry between Silverstone and Van Acker is lacking, and if Mylrea can hone in his talents and give further direction in this arena, he could be a director to watch.
The strongest acting comes from Alicia Silverstone, namely during more upsetting, emotional minutes. And yet, even Silverstone has moments where audiences may wonder if they’re watching a cheesy rom com or a suspenseful drama. When this does happen, it’s not the fault of Silverstone’s delivery, but instead of the dialogue that can be reminiscent of a darker Nicholas Sparks script. Furthermore, Silverstone’s character Henrietta as a whole spurs on questions that leave those watching feeling unsatisfied, complete with cliche comments about nature.
Drew Van Acker is inconsistent with his performance, and writing is once again to blame, more specifically how his character is written. Flip flopping between being stuck as a young boy, to a sexually charged hunk, to a violent hulk, it’s hard to know what to expect from Jake. This also makes it hard to tell if we’re rooting for Jake or are afraid of him at some points. Despite the red flags, Van Acker rolls with the punches and makes the most of the script and Jake, fully embracing his many switches. Does that mean it fully makes sense or captures audiences? No. But it wouldn’t be fair to not respect Van Acker’s commitment to Jake. Given a character that viewers can admire and connect to, Van Acker could flourish and become the next heartthrob.
Unfortunately, after watching Last Survivors, you may catch yourself daydreaming about what could have been and the opportunities that were lost. Nevertheless, watching Silverstone on screen is—and always will be—enjoyable enough. Pair that with the stunning cinematography and scenery and it’s hard to say the film isn’t worth a watch, but maybe just one watch.