The Last Winter (2006)

Finally, a horror movie with some intelligence to it! The Last Winter combines environmentalism with the supernatural to produce a smart, slick, stylish movie - which, unfortunately, isn't entirely without its flaws. But on the whole, it succeeds far more than it fails.

Any movie set in the Arctic is going to face unfavourable comparisons to The Thing, particularly if there's something nasty lurking beneath the ice. But if you can ignore that inevitability, it's a great setting. It's beautiful, for one thing - even though, or perhaps especially because, The Last Winter was actually filmed in Iceland. Beautiful, but isolated and completely uncivilised, a lonely research centre in the middle of the Arctic Tundra is about as cut off as anyone could ever be, anywhere. Throw in a group of mismatched people, each with his or her own agenda, let them marinade in cabin fever for a while, and then whip up a wind that whispers there's something else out there in the ice, and you've got a recipe for something really and truly scary.

The best thing about The Last Winter's 'villain' is that it isn't anything (or anyone) tangible, and it's also all too real. The changing climate, as a result of mankind's general messing up of the planet, is something we're really going to have to worry about, and building a horror movie around a pre-existing fear is always a good idea. The embodiment of pissed off Nature is a bit of a misstep - it's terrifying until you can actually see it clearly - and the ending doesn't quite work, because it's missing that one last breathtaking shot it's so desperately crying out for, but otherwise, the whole end-of-the-world concept works quite well. The only problem might be that it's a little bit too talky. Although all the ingredients are in place, and although the direction is stylish and the film is well put-together and all that, it's really an issue-led movie. There aren't really any characters in it, which means we miss out on having someone to empathise with and be afraid for. There's one scene where this is attempted, and it works, but only for five minutes, which really isn't a big enough chunk of the whole movie.

Which doesn't mean it isn't worth seeing, because it definitely is.

IMDB link

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