Talk about squandering a decent idea. The Last Winter tells an interesting story with some environmental lessons but absolutely drops the ball with an idiotic finale. It’s ambitious and smart and throws all that away for some of the worst CGI monsters outside of SyFy TV movie.
The movie is set in Arctic where an American oil company is doing what all oil companies do, destroying the environment to find the black gold. The story surrounds a specific research team that are deep in the Arctic trying to see just how feasible oil drilling is.
There is concern amongst the researchers about the environmental impact. Especially when James Hoffman (James Le Gros) arrives to analysis their work. His belief is that the damage to the land is not worth it so ends up clashing with the base leader, Ed Pollack (Ron Perlman). It doesn’t help that Hoffman is sleeping with Abby (Connie Britton) who Ed had a previous relationship with.
Ed seems to be under instructions to ensure the site is given the ok for drilling so makes a call and gets Hoffman sent away. However, before he can leave the site one of the team members wanders out naked into the snow at night and winds up dead.
Something drove him crazy and before long it starts to affect everyone at the site. It seems as though a gas deep underground has been unleashed and is causing hallucinations and insanity to run rampant. Alone in the Arctic, can any of them survive what is happening to them?
Almost everything up to the final few minutes is solid; the story is interesting and the characters well-defined. Well, except for Ron Perlman’s Ed who is a little too villainous to take seriously. Ron Perlman might be a legendary actor but he really isn’t stretching himself here and it shows.
On the opposite side is James Le Gros who does fine but has a character who is unlikable because of his preachiness. He’s one of those characters that is always right. His heart is in the right place but his lack of energy makes him a chore to watch.
The concept about the environment having its revenge for a lifetime of destructive behaviour by humans is good. Ambiguous enough to be terrifying, up until the introduction of rubbish CGI monsters at the end. This keeps coming up because it’s a twist that was so unnecessary. It colours the enjoyment of the rest of the film. It’s so poorly done that you can’t help but wish the movie had stopped before it. Sparing us the lacklustre reveal. It wouldn’t take away from the story told at all.
Up to that point The Last Winter intrigues and chills. Partially because of the great cinematography that really shows us the wonder and horror of the Arctic.
That bloody ending though…
The Last Winter