Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: Last Kind Words (2012)

Title: Last Kind Words (2012)
Director: Kevin Barker
Cast: Brad Dourif, Spencer Daniels, Alexia Fast, Sarah Steele
Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes
Synopsis: 17-year-old Eli has just moved with his family deep into the backwoods of Kentucky to work on the isolated farm of a local recluse. Inexplicably drawn into the strange forest that lies beyond the farm, Eli encounters the beautiful, sweet and mysterious Amanda, seemingly the perfect girl. But with the discovery of decaying bodies hanging from the trees, he realizes that the forest - and Amanda - are harboring some very dark secrets. Suddenly, Eli is living in a waking nightmare where the lines between life and death are scrawled in blood, and there is no escaping the terror from beyond the grave.

I ended up seeing this on a whim over Netflix. The synopsis leads you to believe that it will be some sort of horror movie. Even the posters lead you toward that conclusion. What you really get is a sprawling movie that can't decide what it really is. Is it a coming of age love story? Is it a backwoods yawn about a twisted family? Or is it the horror that the filmmakers promoted it as? The answer to all of these ends up being no. This isn't quite a love story nor is it a story about a twisted family. Overall, there is nothing in this film that I would use to define as part of the horror genre.

Last Kind Words suffers from too many plots and no commitment to any of them. Eli's family moves to a farm after his alcoholic, religious father loses his job at a factory. It's made clear that they have no where else to go. The father is abusive and his mother is a skittish woman who runs from conflict. Yet, there really isn't much time devoted to exploring the family at all. Aside from a few fleeting encounters with them, most of Eli's time is spent in the woods.

He's drawn to the mysterious Amanda who he meets on the farm. We're not really given much backstory on her until much later in the film. While we wait to find out what her story is, we have his parents and, Waylon,
the reclusive friend who owns the farm. It's clear that the two elder men have a history. They seem uneasy around each other, but are obviously still friendly enough that Waylon would give the father a job on the farm. In the midst of this, there's Katie, Eli's friend, who shows up wanting to run away from her own family. We aren't really given a chance to connect with any of these characters. The majority of them could easily be discarded.

A slow pace doesn't help this lack of commitment to any of the possibilities for the plot. Despite warnings to stay out of the woods and away from Amanda, Eli continues to venture into the very places he was told to stay away from. Who is this girl? Why is she lurking alone in the woods? By the time the reasons were revealed, I found myself more confused than I'd been from the start. There were simply too many things
going on and little resolution. Alexia Faust did well as Amanda. The role wasn't very difficult for most of the film. The tasks of walking around in the woods while looking pretty and sad aren't too difficult for most girls her age. Some of you might remember her from Supernatural (season 7, episode 13) where she played Dean's daughter, Emma.

The resolution of the film left me feeling even more confused. Certain decisions were made that seemed a bit iffy. All in all, there were too many questions that didn't get answered fully. The slave's story was never really given in any depth. It was merely used to tie up a possible loose end. The boy and his father in the opening sequence were pushed aside in a similar fashion. I can't set aside the issues in this one. I could see where the filmmakers wanted to go...and they simply didn't make it there. Watch it for the scenery. Don't expect too much from the plot.

Rating: 1.5/5

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