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Review: Last Girl Standing – “A fresh take on done-to death sub genre”

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Part of the latest batch of releases on the new “FrightFest Presents” label, Last Girl Standing is released in the UK on February the 29th. The film is the first full-length feature from writer-director Benjamin R. Moody, and stars Austinite Akasha Villalobos as the titular lead.

Last Girl Standing is a slasher movie that begins where a slasher movie usually ends: with the final girl facing off against, and defeating the masked killer who has murdered all her friends. It then flashes forward five years to show that our now psychologically ravaged heroine is still a victim – even though the killer is dead… OR IS HE?

Survivor Camryn (Villalobos) is hiding in a dead end dry cleaning job that lets her get away with the bare minimum of human interaction; before falling asleep every night with a TV dinner until waking up from a nightmare reliving her buddies being slaughtered by “The Hunter”.

Enter Nick (Brian Villalobos), a safe sweet popular bearded new cashier who takes an instant like to Camryn. At the same time as Nick arrives, so – it appears – does The Hunter. But is this deer-head-wearing ritualistic killer actually back, or just in Camryn’s head? Camryn is sure of it, and is also sure that he is not back for her, but Nick and his friends, whom she swears to protect – even if it makes her look completely crazy to them.

A film like this stands or falls on the performance of its lead, and Akasha Villalobos is excellent as Camryn, who she convincingly portrays as both wide-eyed and also as tough as nails. Camryn’s trials and tribulations as she tries to keep herself sane, and her friends safe, are backed by Linus Lau’s pulsing retro electro score, and a clean and carefully composed visual style courtesy of Moody and cinematographerTravis Jones.

Last Girl Standing spins and rejects a lot of slasher tropes, while throwing in an odd but emotionally resonant road trip to The Hunter’s unmarked grave. Pacing is sometimes an issue with the flit back and forth between stalk ‘n’ slash shenanigans and mental health melodrama sometimes slow and clunky when it should be smooth and punchy.

The killer himself is problematic. With The Hunter, the filmmakers have played for something iconic, but ended up with a character verging on the humorous. With his moth-eaten mask, and goofy antlers, The Hunter just isn’t intimidating, let alone scary.

Last Girl Standing is fresh take on done-to death sub genre, and a story we have really not seen before. Interesting and unpredictable, it’s a psycho killer psycho thriller with a towering central performance from Villalobos.

3.5-out-of-5

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