Film Review: The Last Winter

Directed/Written by Larry Fessenden in 2006

True horror films have one thing in common: they involve the supernatural. In other words, what you see is impossible, improbable, unrealistic, never going to happen. Why is it that Horror is the most popular genre out there?

The way I see it, people fall into two camps. In the first, they admit what they’re watching is total fabrication; disbelief is summarily suspended. In which case, what’s the point? These films are not funny, clever, or historical. Wes Craven aside, they’re usually not ingeniously creative. There’s very little in the way of writing as they all have the same plot: people travel/ move to a new house/town/vacation spot that is haunted/cursed/inherently evil and at some point a ghost/monster/witch/devil rears its ugly head, killing all inconsequential characters, but eventually is overcome by the cleverness/strength/inherent goodness of the beautiful/innocent/buff/saintly main character(s). Usually the evil doesn’t end there because there is a need to have Generic Horror Movie II– ∞ to drive us back to the theater (or drive-in in these Covid19 times).

The other type of horror fan is the person who claims to not believe the premise but down in the quivering part of their intestines, they suspect it is quite possible. These are the people I really don’t get. Do they enjoy being scared out of their wits? Because to even have an inkling that the Exorcist might be a true story (as the publicists would have you believe) means never sleeping again.

I don’t like horror films. But The Last Winter is really quite enjoyable. It’s more a dystopian end-of-the-world film than Horror, but Horror it is. You don’t get to the supernatural until the end and in my opinion the film’s downside is that link to the impossible. The real frightening stuff is the fact that the film’s horror is based in a real possibility: the permafrost in the Arctic Circle is melting and God knows what is going to come up that has heretofore been contained for millions of years. In the case of the movie, what’s coming up seems to be enough hydrogen sulfide gas to drive the inhabitants of a drilling reconnaissance mission batty. And bring a flock of crows and rain to the extreme northern latitudes.

Equal parts The Thing, The Birds, and Jurassic Park, it never quite immerses itself in those looney films and until the final five minutes, remains in the realm of possibility. It’s the best kind of horror film. I haven’t slept with the lights off yet.

A couple of my favorite actors were in the film: James Le Gros and Kevin Corrigan. These two crop up every so often in out of the way films. Sometimes both together like in Living in Oblivion (which should be required viewing for every low budget filmmaker) and Scotland, PA. Bonus: Kevin Corrigan has a nice role in Buffalo 66.

The Last Winter gets extra credit points for giving us creepy snow. Snow. What is sweeter than snow? People make snow angels and snowmen with carrots for noses. Snow globes hold sentimental small-town scenes that we cherish because they’re souvenirs of vacations we’re fond of. Who doesn’t have a soft spot for big, soft snow flakes? The Last Winter for one. Any love you had for snow will be lost upon viewing this final winter of discontent. Watch it and see what you think.

For more cinematic fun: check out the Dust Nuggets trailer. The real thing will be here Any Day Now.

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