Last Of The Living (2008) & Husk (2011)
Now I know what your thinking.
“Luke why are you reviewing these two films together? You’s crazy.”
Maybe you’re right, dear reader, but consider these pivotal points. They sit side by side, sisters, as niched movies with A. lots of missed opportunities and B. terrible plot holes. However, each possess something that the other lacks so I have banded them together and prehaps in doing so will reveal the root cause of why both failed so miserably.
So, let’s start with a little bit about each movie:
Last Of The Living (LOTL) centers around three bums Morgan, Johnny & Ash (Morgan Williams, Robert Faith & Ashleigh Southam) who rather mysteriously managed to survive not only a zombie outbreak, but also the decimation of mankind that followed, despite lacking in both smarts and urgency (I wont patronise you by stating which other film has a very similar plot). When they happen upon scientist Stef (Emily Paddon-Brown) and her infected father in a church, they soon discover that the cure and therefore redemption of mankind rests in their hands.
Husk follows a different but equally formulaic plot; take four friends, one tag along girlfriend and an abandoned farmhouse surrounded by corn and you usually have the recipe for banality. Husk, however, manages to take the scenario to new lows. Within the first five minutes the gang have crashed the car due to an ill-placed flock of crows. One of the group quickly disappears and they swiftly disband despite Natalie’s (Tammin Sursok) mysterious protestations that she has “a bad feeling” about the place. When the missing party member turns up inside the house looking deathly while sewing a fetching new head bag for himself, a mysterious assailant begins to pick of some of the others in the field the survivors quickly realise (thanks to helpful flashbacks that one of the friends is conveniently privy to) that their dire situation is hinged on a violent murder that happened years ago and there only means of escape is to pass back through the corn and into the arms of the butcher that stalks them.
Knowing the plot of each movie before I endeavored to watch them I was not expecting much, I’ve seen enough horror to know pretty much what to expect. This is why I was surprised that each failed so miserably but also fascinated, on reflection, how contrasting points in each movie prove that there is no recipe for the perfect horror film, only balance.
Pacing: LOTL starts slowly. Logan MacMillan tries to allow time for us to get to know our deadbeat heroes and give a little insight to their characters. However they are all two-dimensional cutouts so this building was in vain and I found myself reaching for my iPhone to indulge in a sneaky game of Angry Birds until something of interest happened. Husk on the other hand gets into the action almost straight away and made no pretense that the characters are anything but throwaway. Sadly the action only serves to remind us of the many glaring holes in the story when it starts to lose its way. Besides that, you care nothing for the contemptible characters so feel nothing when they perish.
Predictability: Husk actually has you guessing what will happen next and the kill order went against my early predictions. In his effort to set the film apart Brett Simmons tries to stretch the plot too far, tacking on a lot of back story which is left half explained. LOTL sticks closely to the tried and tested zombie mythos, but seems unsure which strain to follow. One minute a punch is enough to fell a zombie, the next they are still fighting after a brutal barrage of bats and golf clubs. Similarly, at one point the zombies are shambling softies, the next they are lighting quick and strong as oxes. Sometimes it takes more than an hour to transform and the sometimes it’s instantaneous. The loyalty to the zombie rule book makes these inconsistencies all the more glaring.
Horror Vs Comedy: Husk tries to play it as a straight-laced horror while LOTL is pure zomedy. I think each could have learned a little from the other. Husk would have played out better had it been a bit more comical and allowed us to laugh along with it rather than at it. An audience is far more forgiving of a films foibles when its making a mockery of itself. LOTL veers too far to the side of comedy to the point where they are inserting flatulence gags to fill in any dead air (pardon my choice of wording), a few genuine scares might have remedied that.
Sometimes horror movies miss the mark and others they are dead on but these two examples could serve as a masterclass of what not to do when constructing a film in the genre.
Last Of The Living: 111/666