Last Girl Standing (2016) - Dread Central
Connect with us


Last Girl Standing (2016)



Last Girl Standing

Last Girl StandingStarring Akasha Villalobos, Danielle Evon Ploeger, Brian Villalobos, JD Carrera, Ryan Hamilton

Directed by Benjamin Moody

Every year at Texas Frightmare Weekend there’s one movie that screens that stands above the others. One film, frequently a premiere, that’s just better than the rest. In 2016 that movie is Last Girl Standing.

It’s a difficult film to describe.  The setup is simple enough: After a traditional slasher film, what happens to the “final girl?” We’ve seen that answer in sequels; she usually winds up dead.  What would happen, though, if she exited the world of the standard 80’s-style slasher and went into the real world, where PTSD and survivor trauma were real?

That’s what first-time (?!?) writer/director Ben Moody brings us with Last Girl Standing.  I’d say it mostly registers as a thriller, but it’s also very much a character drama.  It’s a very bold step, especially when making what is definitely a horror film, but Moody nails the goal precisely.  Camryn (Villalobos) survives The Hunter, who murdered all of her friends in the woods as part of a failed ritual.  Five years later, though, she’s barely surviving.  You can’t call it living.  She works a menial job, avoids contact as much as possible, and is plagued by never-ending nightmares and flashbacks.

A new employee at her job causes her to reach out to another human as the five-year anniversary of the killings hits and she starts experiencing mysterious attacks that suggest the killer may not be dead.

That explains the “thriller” side of the film, and had Moody relied on that plot alone, he’d still have a good film.  What makes this a brilliant film, though, is that he doesn’t.  We’re taken inside Camryn’s world as she starts to come out of hiding and lets other people in.  She meets a kindred soul in Danielle, one of a group of friends she becomes a part of, and this leads her to confront her fears.  She survived The Hunter; can she survive herself?

What follows is nothing short of genius which hearkens back to Ripley in Alien and even Zach Snyder’s Sucker Punch.  Whose story is this?  What are we really watching?

The heart of this movie is in how it treats and displays survivors of trauma.  Unfortunately, I am married to a survivor of trauma and know many others, and in Camryn and Danielle, the reality is portrayed perfectly.  The constant struggle, the effort required to just get on with things… it’s all there.  I have to call out the performance of San Antonio’s own Danielle Evon Ploeger as Danielle, specifically.  Camryn is the lead and has all the fireworks, but Danielle’s story, though quieter, catches the viewer by surprise and just guts you with empathy.  We know what Camryn went though… we see it.  All we see of Danielle’s suffering is what she shares with Camryn in a moment of quiet conversation.  It leaves you heartbroken, as Danielle seems to have it all together and is doing well.  It’s extremely powerful stuff by writer/director and actress, and I still get goosebumps just thinking about it.

A story I have to share about the screening: Right before the third act there was a problem with the disc, and the movie froze.  I’ve only seen a crowd close to a riot bigger than this once or twice.  People were engaged and openly upset that they may not be able to see the end of the film.  When they got the problem fixed, there was a cheer worthy of an NFL title game.  This is a jaded, hardcore horror crowd, mind you. The film is just that strong.

While it seems this one was made for $5 and the goodwill of friends, it absolutely doesn’t look it.  I had no idea it was a micro-budget movie until after the screening, and I was shocked.  This is a solid, professionally made film.  Outside of the standout leads, a couple of the background characters have uneven performances, but it’s nothing that throws you out of the film.  Even the gore effects are solid.  My only real complaint is minor: The Hunter design is a little goofy.  I get what they were trying to do – make the slasher part of the story as traditional and silly as always and then throw you into reality for maximum shock, but the jackalope mask is a bit much.  He’s a menacing slasher and effective for what he needs to do, but damn… those antlers.  Just sayin’.

Last Girl Standing is an incredible debut from Moody.  He’s given us a touching character study that manages to satisfy fans of drama.  When things go bad, and they do go bad, he satisfies horror fans just as much. It’s a tight, touching, intense thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.

One last tip: Do NOT Google this movie.  There are some big spoilers sitting out there in text and images. This is definitely one of those films that’s best experienced cold, like I did.

  • Film
User Rating 3 (5 votes)
Continue Reading


Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?



Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas

While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

  • Inside (Remake)


Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

User Rating 1.67 (3 votes)
Continue Reading


What If Tina Fey Wrote Jennifer’s Body? My Friend’s Exorcism Book Review



“Rummaging in one of his duffel bags, [the exorcist] pulled out and athletic cup and slid it down the front of his pants. ‘First place they go for,’ he explained. He then adjusted himself and picked up a well-worn Bible. ‘Let’s do the Lord’s work.'”

It was about a year ago now (it seems) that I first saw the cover of “My Best Friend’s Exorcism.” If you haven’t seen it for yourself in all of its glory, make sure to click the image over to the right for a more in-depth look. Awesome, right? Got to love all the VHS details such as the “Horror” and “Be Kind Rewind” stickers. Classic. Utter classic.

Now I’m fully aware that one should not judge a book by its cover. Literally. But still the moment I saw this work of delicious art crop up in the inbox I had to read the book asap. Well, it turns out asap was about a year later, but all the same, I’ve now had a peek at the inside of the book as well as the outside. Does the content inside match the content outside?

Let’s find out…

For those who might not know, “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” (henceforth referred to as MBFE) tells the tale of two best friends named Abby and Grethen. One night the two, and a few of there other friends, drop a bit of acid for the first time. While the drug never kicks in (no worries, there’s no lame twist-ending to be had here) poor Gretchen still wanders off into the woods and gets possessed like a motherf*cker in some creepy abandoned building. From there, things go from bad to worse until an unlikely exorcist is called in and things go off the wicked walls in all the best ways possible.

Now, to review. First of all, let it be know that MBFE is more of a teen romance (between two friends) than a straight tale of terror. Think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body?” and that will give you a good hint at what the book holds in store for you. Not that that’s a bad thing. Still, you should be aware that the first 2/3 of the book is almost exclusively teenagers not getting along, bitch about losing touch, who is sleeping with who, and yada, yada, yada for pages on end. Dramarama for days. Mostly.

That said, not only is the teen drama bearable (and truthfully quite sweet in spots), Hendrix keeps the horror in the spotlight just enough that I never lost faith the book was heading somewhere truly balls to the wall. And it does. Oh, boy does it. From the time the unholy shite hits the fan in the last third, to the time the last word is read, the book is filled with horror moments that will make even the most jaded fright-fiction fan gag, grimace, or stand up and cheer!

You just have to get through all the angst first…

But speaking of angst, let me get a bit of extremely personal business out of the way real quick. Can I trust you with this info? Sure I can. MBFE made is cry like a baby. Not kidding. There have been very few times in my life that I have literally burst out crying. I’ve had some sad shite happen in my days, and I have seen some sad-ass movies, but nothing has made me cry out of the f*cking blue like MBFE. I’m not going to go into details about the final 10 pages of the book, but it tore my poor horror-heart a new one. It was bad. Like snot and hyperventilating type shite. Again, not kidding. Thank the lord I wasn’t in public is all I can say. I would have arrested and thrown in the booby-hatch.

MBFE goes along like a slightly horror-centric version of Mean Girls and Heathers for most of its page count. If you’re a straight horror fan, you’ll be at odds with whether you should bother finishing it or not. You will. Trust me. But listen to me now and know that once our heroine goes into the dark, dank bedroom of the school’s resident bitch to find out why she hasn’t been in school the past few days/weeks, the horror hits like holy hell. And it only gets worse (RE: better) from there.

In the end, MBFE is a book ever horror fan should own – if only for the cover. I dug the hell out of the book (eventually) and I’m sure the majority of you guys will too. But even for those hard-hearts out there that just can’t stand to read about things like uncompromising love, and hellfire-forged friendship, you still need to own the book. You still owe it to yourself to give it a try. If you don’t care for it, that’s cool, just display in on your bookshelf in all it’s VHS glory. It will make you look cool.

  • My Best Friend's Exorcism - Book Review


Grady Hendrix’s “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is a killer mixture of Mean Girls, Heathers, and The Exorcist. Just think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body” and you’ll have a good indication of what lies in store for you within the amazing VHS-inspired cover art.

Continue Reading


Knock Knock Review – This Throwback To The VHS Era Packs A Fun Punch



Starring Kerry Tartack, Sisi Berry, Chuk Hell

Directed by Toby Canto

I remember the glory days of my youth back in the early to mid-80’s, renting every friggin horror flick on VHS and keeping the cassettes well past the return dates, eventually blacklisting my name from damn near all of the movie shops in my hometown. For the sole reason of wanting to hop back in the time-machine, I’ll never turn down the opportunity to check out a film that promises to ship you back to the days of all of that cheesy-neon attire and overblown hairdos.

Director Toby Canto was generous enough to offer his latest film up onto the sacrificial stone, and it’s called Knock Knock – about a WAY past his prime pugilist named Sam (Tartack) who is unwillingly thrust into a throwdown with a bloodsucker who happens to reside in the same apartment – damn noisy neighbors! His only birthday wish is to spend his 60th go-round safely hold up in his domicile, away from pesky residents alike. Well, that plan goes to shit when his kooky neighbor (Berry) comes by and pitches the idea of throwing hands with the newest tenant: a real creature of the night (Lucas Ayoub).

Sam initially nixes the idea wholeheartedly, but when more of his quirky neighbors show up to his place to substantiate the vampiric-claims, Sam finds himself lacing up the leather for one more round…or two, depending on if he can still take a beating. Filled with more than a handful of goofy instances, this near-hour presentation won’t blow the doors off of the horror/com vehicle, but should more than suffice in the short-term until the next spooky-laugher comes slithering out of its hole.

  • Film


Historians alike, this movie’s for those who want a reminder of how loopy those VHS days were, and the best part is you don’t have to rewind a freakin’ thing.

User Rating 0 (0 votes)
Continue Reading

Recent Comments


Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

* indicates required

Go Ad Free!

Support Dread Central on Patreon!


Copyright © 2017 Dread Central Media LLC