As soon as I started watching The Last Victim, I knew it was going to be a great movie. The cinematography and slow, deliberate camera movement built a very intense atmosphere within minutes. You could tell right away that the script is tight. And that it’s only going to get better. We even got a narrator with raspy voice diving into the depths of nihilism with weary indifference. The director is in no rush to tell the story, enticing you with a lot of mystery and tension.
We find ourselves in a small town in New Mexico, but we could be anywhere as all small towns are all basically the same. And they’re going through the same old shit. After a furious intro, we settle into a quite slow tempo. The Last Victim is one of those noir movies that are best enjoyed with a cigarette and a glass of whiskey. Although considering that it gets a bit philosophical at times, you can swap those with weed and beer. Choose your poison, to remain in the movie’s vibe.
The cast is led by incredibly charismatic Ralph Ineson who gave one hell of a performance. Right behind him are versatile Ali Larter and dependable Ron Perlman. For a moment there, I confused Larter with Alice Eve, as she starred in a similar but more commercial thriller, Cold Comes The Night. The rest of the cast was also quite good. The quality of scenes ranges from mediocre to fucking superb. Larter’s early monologue, Sherriff’s visit to the trailer along with Ineson’s memorable narration are among my favorites.
It’s late at night in the small town of Negacion, New Mexico. One of the few establishments still open is the Hog Heaven diner and there we find Manny, eating his dinner. Soon, three mean-looking men show up and one of them enters Hog Heaven. He appears to know Manny quite well. What’s going to happen next is going to set off a chain of events with lasting and unforeseen consequences. That’s life for ya.
Now, I will admit that The Last Victim losses its momentum towards the end. The contrast between these two parts of the movie is pretty big just because the first eighty minutes were just so good. The ending is acceptable albeit a bit contrived and it’s the only reason why this movie didn’t get a clean ten. Still, a solid nine puts it into a company of some pretty big movies, directors, writers, and actors.
For example, One False Move, a relatively similar thriller, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Bill Paxton just got an eight. And when you find out that this is Naveen A. Chathapuram’s debut film, things get much clearer. I fucking can’t wait to see what he, Doc Justin, and Ashley James Louis have in store for us next. I also loved the soundtrack featuring a lot of great songs that really enhance the atmosphere of the movie.
It would appear that many of the people who have seen this movie expected a fast-paced action movie. I do agree they could’ve shaved off at least fifteen minutes and a couple of subplots that were left unresolved but still. So, I really can’t find out the reason behind the unreasonably low IMDb score of just 5.4. It just goes to show you that you shouldn’t trust so much those scores. I also noticed that, for some people, the narration was annoying. For me, it was the best part of the movie.
I simply cannot resist quoting just a couple of Ineson’s lines as I still can’t stop thinking about them. Just like I couldn’t stop thinking about the first season of True Detective. Some of them may feel overwritten but some hit really hard.
We are all, all of us, in a constant peaceful panic. Placid fear. Forcing the muscles in our face to appear relaxed as they straining tight. Cause we’re afraid they’ll figure it out. We don’t belong, we never did. Maybe none of us do ’cause we were born to work a machine that wasn’t built to help us. Those who we desire to be.Jake, The Last Victim
A state of constant peaceful panic, fuck me, are they on to something or what? I remember writing something similar in our Rabbit Reviews analysis of another cult classic, 1993’s Falling Down.
Director: Naveen A. Chathapuram
Writers: Ashley James Louis, Naveen A. Chathapuram, Doc Justin
Cast: Ralph Ineson, Ali Larter, Ron Perlman, Kyle Schmid, Dakota Daulby, Tahmoh Penikett, Camille Legg
Fun Facts: Althogh the premiere of the movie was on September 16, 2021, it was released in theaters and on VOD on May 13, 2022.
IMDb Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11242718/