It was just a matter of time before there was a Global Warming horror / monster film. A movie that would make Al Gore proud, “The Last Winter” is an extremely ambitious film, unfortunately populated with plot holes, bad acting and terrible CG monsters to boot. Accordingly, this film melts quicker than the snow-turned-puddle that is currently the North Pole.
North Industries is looking to capitalize on oil in Alaska and they have sent a team to develop roads so equipment can traverse easily across the arctic landscape. The team is headed up by grizzled Ed Pollack (Ron Perlman), who will do whatever it costs to get the roads developed even if it means crossing green peace activist Jim Hoffman (James LeGros), who is ready to let the world know about what is really happening at the Arctic Circle. The story is interesting despite the old school take of having a big corporation invading the last untouched part of the world for the prospect of oil, and I even enjoyed seeing the new spin on the moster genre by posing the idea that drilling for oil and taking the fossil fuel is like opening up a burial ground to the prehistoric animals (as opposed to some radioactive Godzilla-age). Plus the fact that the two leads were also great lent to this vision of could be a good film… unrealized.
Both Perlman and LeGros give great performances, it is just too bad that the rest of the cast is mediocre-to-absolute crap. The worst offender is Connie Britton, who plays Abby. For some reason she becomes the lead character near the end of the film, which stylistcly is weird since that was never alluded to, but it becomes even worse due to the fact that she just did a terrible job and couldn’t carry any of the scenes she was in. Yet her acting wasn’t half as bad as some of the plot elements within the film.
The main problem with the plot was that, unexpectedly, characters would just die. A few examples of unexplained deaths would be Lee (Pato Hoffman) disappearing and leaving only his boots. Another character bleeds from his nose which leads to him being discovered dead in his bed. These deaths would just happen and there was no indication as to how or why the monsters were killing in these methods and it ended up just coming off odd and out-of-place. Still, poor acting and random plot deaths aside, there were some stand-out components to this film.
For example, the location of Alaska was just beautifully presented and shot. The look of desolation is conveyed nicely with the long sweeping camera moves, illustrating the outpost where the team resides. Also the production design within the outpost was done quite well. Each room and area that a character resides in is completely different and unique and it is these little attentions to detail within production design that make sets look just that much more believable.
I didn’t completely hate this movie. You can tell that Larry Fessenden is truly passionate about the subject of global warming (and monsters) and for the most part his ideas can be bought. It is sad, however, to see that such a unique spin on the monster film genre was so poorly executed. I wouldn’t be surprised if subject matter like this doesn’t get unearthed again in the future, perhaps in a more realized fashion.