Any zombie movie that’s shot in black and white will instantly draw comparison’s to George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. It’s unavoidable and sometimes unwarranted, and an example of this is Andrew Jara’s The Last Ones. Although the film is shot in black and white and features slow moving zombies with light special effects, that’s just about where the the similarities end; and The Last Ones feels more like a mash-up of Shuan of the Dead, The Last Of Us and Outbreak than it does a Night of the Living Dead copycat. From its humble beginnings in a dank basement to a shoot out on an abandoned city block, The Last Ones goes for the jugular with suspense and character drama, leaving the horror as a distant, secondary antagonist. A previous press release states that the film looks at the human side of a virus-born zombie apocalypse and takes the genre back to its roots. This absolutely hits the nail on the head as far as intent is concerned. Based on the screenplay by Andrew Jara, The Last Ones follows two men – John and Michael – as they wait out the end of the world and all the trouble it brings, including the uncertainty of leaving the house for food and supplies. When they unexpectedly run into another survival, Karina, the situation inadvertently goes from bad to worse. From director and producer Andrew Jara, The Last Ones stars Mark Ocegueda, Algernon D’Ammassa, Marcelle Bowman, Carole Aspinwall, Jamie Mora and Marlon Lewis.
The Last Ones was executively produced by Joshua W. Epp and features cinematography by Matt Wilson, production design by A.C. Gavit and editing by William E. Murdock. The movie screened at five film festivals during its theatrical run, and I have to say that I’m surprised by that. It’s not bad by any means and I enjoyed a lot of the content found within, but as a production this one just didn’t do it for me. I wasn’t bothered so much by the lack of color so much as I was bothered by the lack… well, I don’t know what, actually. The Last Ones is quite dramatic with decent levels of suspense and a strong helping of violence, but when it comes to mood and atmosphere – it’s just missing something that I can’t put my finger on. I can even dismiss some of the production errors. The audio being over-edited at times and sounding like voice-overs more than spoken word reminded me of horror films from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s – the one’s that horror hosts would feature on their shows. It was old school, and although it was erroneous, it still took my mind back to a better time in cinema. The acting averaged from passable to bad, and it tapered near the end, but I wouldn’t expect Oscar earning performances from a zombie flick. Again, my problem with this movie stems from lack of… I don’t know. I still can’t put it into words. Maybe different scores would have helped? This is the first time I’ve been stumped this bad in a review.
There were moments when The Last Ones could have jumped the shark, and yet they made the wise decision to reel the story back and focus on two men as they watch the world crumble around them. The outbreak starts at a school, and the viewer is left with the notion that all of those children are going to die in a few hours. It’s decisions like that that enable The Last Ones to contain an old school charm that fans of the genre are going to enjoy. The target audience is going to be limited and specific – zombie fans who prefer shamblers over runners and suspense over buckets of gore – and for them this movie is going to be worthwhile. Zombies are present and hungry, and yet this movie sees navigating the city as the real villain. The uncertainty is knocking at the door almost as much as the zombies that want to get in. It’s almost a survivalist type movie more than a zombie drama and the quest for survival has never been so depressing. And I mean that in a good way. The Last Ones is a moody, psychedelic narrative on having what it takes to keep pushing forward when you’ve lost everything. The zombies are an added bonus in time when you feel like the minutes passing by are working against you. Although I’m still unsure of what’s “missing” from the atmosphere, I still think it’s pretty good and the target audience should definitely check it out when it hits Amazon Video on January 26, 2018.
Final Score: 6.5 out of 10.