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Case Number 17024: Small Claims Court

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The Last Resort

Lionsgate // 2009 // 75 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // August 13th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Gordon Sullivan recommends this film, but only as a last resort.

The Charge

Your passport to hell.

The Case

Don't stop me if you've heard this one before (because I'm sure you have):

Five interchangeable young women go on a vacation to a remote part of Mexico to engage in excessive drinking and sex with strangers. For one of them, the evening ends well, in the arms of a young teacher. For the rest, the evening ends in an altercation in a bar. When the group wakes up without their lucky friend, they decide to go driving around with a pair of tour guides. Surprise, surprise, the tour guides are really robbers, and they shoot one of the young women in the leg and leave the whole group out in the desert. Naturally the girls head for the nearest shelter, which just happens to be an abandoned resort that the locals won't talk about. With the girls trapped in the middle of nowhere, it's up to the lucky young girl and her hunky schoolteacher beau to swoop in and save the day.

Here's a tip to would-be filmmakers: if you're going to make a movie about a spooky abandoned resort, have more than 15 minutes (of a 75-minute movie) feature the resort. I give kudos to the team behind The Last Resort for coming up with a kind of cool haunted location idea. The whole resort motif allows for a cool location, interesting backstory, and some interesting commentary on consumerism. Too bad it takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get our heroines there. Seriously, the first third of the film "introduces" the group (I put it in quotes because we learn on the briefest bio bits about them, like one has an eating disorder and another is getting married), and then it's a good bit into the second third before the girls are stranded at the location. That should be time to rev it up and deliver the gory goods, but instead Last Resort makes the goofy decision to cut away to the lone friend and her new schoolteacher. Then, it's not until the final moments of the film that we get to see what's so bad about the resort that the locals won't mention. There's some good stuff in the final 15 minutes, but the bottom line is that a 75-minute horror movie should not drag like this.

The film also errs on the side of giving us the exact wrong amount of information about the location. We get some flashbacks to one of the previous inhabitants writing a diary that sets up just how nasty the place is, but without any more detail about how or why the resort is this way, these scenes feel like filler of the worst sort. These scenes are also obviously trying to keep the tension high while the film maneuvers the women to the resort. Because it takes so durn long to get them there the vast majority of the movie doesn't feature any horror whatsoever. Without the flashback scenes in the beginning, I don't think the average viewer would guess that this was a horror film until near the end.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, The Last Resort also borrows heavily from other movies. The whole "five friends stranded in a foreign/tropical country" is old, there's a fortune-telling "gypsy" woman, a whole possession motif that's taken straight out of The Twilight Zone by way of Evil Dead.

All the problems listed above are a real shame because The Last Resort is a pretty slick-looking picture, and obviously well put together. Production values are fairly high, the acting is average or above for this kind of picture, and there's a really intriguing premise and/or short film hiding in the 75 minutes of Last Resort. The ending, shockingly, leaves room for a sequel, and I think there's a possibility that with the right script, The Last Resort 2 could easily top this flick for both scares and story.

On DVD, The Last Resort gets an above-par audiovisual presentation. Although it doesn't display the world's biggest budget, the film is bright and generally clean. The audio isn't particularly dynamic, but dialogue is audible and the mix was clear. Sadly, there are no extras on this disc (unless you count "previews" for other films). Considering the almost-there nature of the film, I'd love to hear how it got made and any changes it might have gone through on the road to production.

There are plenty worse vacation horror movies out there, but The Last Resort is still difficult to recommend except to the desperate.

The Verdict

Guilty of wasting a prime location on an undercooked idea.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 70

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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