Last Survivor: The Line between Love & Violence

Things always get weird when art imitates life. Especially when one seems to have nothing to do with the other.

Last Survivors?tells the story of Jake (Drew Van Acker), a young man who has been living off the grid with his father, Troy (Stephen Moyer) for over 20 years. Convinced by his father that the world has ended due to World War III, Jake has lived a life of survival at all costs. Isolated in the woods, he believes that all of humanity is evil and that the best way to deal with them is to eliminate those who threaten them. When he discovers Henrietta, a beautiful woman (Alicia Silverstone) who lives alone in the woods, Jake becomes intrigued with her. (After all, he?s never seen a woman before.) Initially, their relationship is one of fear and threat but her kindness eventually breaks through, leaving Jake confused about the world around him.?

Directed by Drew Mylrea, Last Survivor is a direct-to-video release that almost works. With a premise that actually has an interesting premise and some surprises along the way, Survivor has the seeds of a solid entry. Unfortunately, the film is let down by its writing and, to a lesser extent, its cast. Awkward writing creates awkward moments between characters that should carry some serious heat between them. What?s more, the cast don?t really seem that interested in the material themselves, leaving the viewer feel chilly. (Having said this, it?s worth noting that Silverstone does provide some interesting work here as the surprisingly complex Henrietta.) 

Where this film becomes particularly interesting though is in its timing. In light of the Will Smith and Chris Rock confrontation at this year?s Oscars ceremony, there is an enormous conversation taking place right now about the relationship between love and violence. While the stories have nothing to do with one another, this too becomes a central theme in Survivors as well. For example, the actions that Jake?s father takes stem from (what he believes to be) out of love. To him, the act of isolating him from the outside world is a protective instinct from the hurt and pain caused by others. What?s more, the film almost validates his position. There?s a brokenness throughout each of Survivors? characters that highlights the darkness that exist within us all. In this world, everyone has secrets that involve pain and suffering. 

If the world is such a dark, terrifying place, who wouldn?t want to retreat to protect their family?

However, thankfully, the film also never justifies his behaviour either. Instead, the film seems to recognize that, whereas one person can justify violence as an act of defense, it seems to completely counterintuitive to the nature of love itself. As Troy?s secrets are gradually revealed, we understand that his actions stem out of hurt and anger towards those who have wronged him as opposed to honour and love. Consequently, Survivor seems oddly appropriate today. (However, not of its own volition.) 

Despite a unique premise and some quality moments, Last Survivors may not live up to expectations. While the film itself may not be particularly memorable though, the conversations surrounding violence, love and the boundaries between them sparks some life within Survivors.

Even so, this film may still be a Last pick in your queue.

Last Survivors?is available on VOD on Tuesday, March 29th, 2022.

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