“The Last Victim,” starring Ron Perlman as a sheriff on the hunt for some ruthless killers, now streaming on VOD, is a throwback to gritty neo-westerns like “Hell or High Water” and “No Country For Old Man.”
Beginning with a calculated but brutal slaughter at a small-town Southwest American diner, “The Last Victim” follows Jake (Ralph Ineson), the vicious ringleader of the restaurant slaughter as he attempts to dispose of the bodies at the ramshackle, and seemingly closed-for-the-season, Yaj Oolal Overlook Nature Preserve.
Jake’s plan is interrupted by Susan (Ali Larter), an anthropologist with OCD, and her husband, Richard (Tahmoh Penikett), who stumble across the place on a cross country drive. The killer makes short work of Richard, shooting him on sight. Susan is luckier, disappearing into the woods. “Go see if she was dumb enough to make a run for it,” Jake tells his henchmen as their deadly game of cat-and-mouse begins.
As Sheriff Hickey (Perlman) and Deputy Mindy Gaboon (Camille Legg) begin their investigation into the diner murders, Susan must stay one step ahead of Jake to avoid becoming the last victim.
In his directorial debut Naveen A. Chathapuram has made a stylized, tense story of survival. The film has an aura of dread, that builds as the story ticks down to the inevitable climatic showdown.
Chathapuram is aided by a menacing performance from Ineson, who oozes evil, Perlman, whose presence evokes a certain, special kind of gravitas, and Larter’s authoritative work. They make up for some of the movie’s weaknesses, like some o-so-serious voiceover, a somewhat too leisurely pace in the film’s mid-section and a tacked-on ending sequence that adds little, except for a few minutes to the overall running time.
“The Last Victim” is a very strong directorial debut that packs excitement into the storytelling, including a rather surreal climax, with enough twists to keep the story of survival compelling throughout.