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Last Winter, The (DVD Review)

20 Jul, 2008 By: Brendan Howard

Last Winter

Street 7/22/08
Box Office $0.03 million
$19.95 DVD
Not rated.
Stars Ron Perlman, James LeGros, Connie Britton, Zach Gilford, Kevin Corrigan.

Fifty years ago, we were afraid that nuclear missiles would rain down on us from the Evil Empire. Today, Americans are more and more afraid of global warming. The Last Winter, a high-quality if not completely satisfying horror film, plays on that.

The plot follows a handful of oil-company workers joined by one or two “greenie” environmental evaluators. They're all isolated in the Great White North of the much-ballyhooed Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In a scenario that seems awfully current, the price of oil has finally climbed high enough that Americans are willing to crunch up and drill some of this last unspoiled wilderness. But the wilderness seems to have other ideas. One of the greenies has observed wild weather fluctuations, rising temperatures, and unsettling encounters, and wonders if Mother Nature isn't starting to take her revenge on her most impudent species, Homo Sapiens. People at the frigid base camp are starting to go a little crazy, too, seeing things in the polar dark. The body count rises, and the team members slowly admit to themselves that something's off-kilter out here.

The beautiful arctic cinematography, the expert direction, and good performances from Ron Perlman as the mean boss, James LeGros as the relatively gallant environmental expert, and Connie Britton as the loyal company woman, make this a horror film treat. What's not as delightful is the film's conclusion, which is more mysterious than it needs to be. Are the strange happenings the result of the spirits of animals? Gas seeping up from a melting permafrost? Humans mentally corrupted by some powerful force of Earth? The movie doesn't say for sure, which makes its apocalyptic finale much less satisfying than its promising beginning.

The Last Winter will appeal to those hankering for some ice-cold horror on a par with The Thing as well as environmentally minded film fans who are scared at the possibility of Mother Nature fighting back against mankind's environmental degradation.

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