Thursday, January 07, 2010

Last Winter

Despite initial interest, I read some bad reviews about The Last Winter which gave me pause. My reaction to director Larry Fessenden's The Wendigo, which I thought was OK, reduced my interest further. Then I saw this list of top ten wintry horror movies and decided to give it a try. It's actually pretty good!

It's a horror/science fiction hybrid. The pacing, acting and narrative are low key and subdued, but there is an undercurrent of disquiet and tension that kept me watching. It is set in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at a potential site for drilling. The oil company who has the lease has hired some environmental experts to review the site and give it the OK. Strange warming in the area makes it difficult or impossible to bring in the gear and the experts advise against proceeding. This sets up a conflict with the roughnecks.

The movie sets has a pair of conflicts that slowly escalate. One is between the red and blue staters (much more subtle than in the Wendigo) and the other is the conflict between the environment and the humans. The Arctic Circle is a dangerous place and it might be even more dangerous than we suspect. Fessenden keeps both conflicts going and it is hard to tell which is going to be the bigger problem.

The end will be a problem for some. I loved it, but it may come as a disappointing surprise to some. This is the first bit of science fiction about global warming that I have really enjoyed.

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