Written and Directed by Alex Rosling
Starring Max James, Charlie Hellard, James McKillop
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Set in the year 2028, filmmaker Alex Rosling’s short film The Last Day is a frenetic and thrilling story about survival in a harsh dystopia. One man (Max James) is attempting to locate a container of pills, venturing out into the bleak and lonely landscape, seemingly in order to help an older man (Charlie Hellard), who becomes to the prey for an attacker (James McKillop). Panic, threat and violence ensue as this tale spills out across a strange and unknown future land.
Told without any dialogue but a beautiful sound design enhanced by the music of Adam Robert Galloway, The Last Day is a film that definitely plays to its strengths. For a movie with an obviously low budget, not too many locations are used and the short is not crammed full of expositional dialogue, which can easily be the case for sci-fi movies. Instead, the viewer is propelled on a ten-minute thrill ride in which the ambiguity of the storyline is balanced brilliantly with the tension of the physical performances.
The filmmaking utilises fast cuts to increase the velocity with which events unfold, brilliantly done by Rosling who not only writes and directs here, but also edits. By chopping the visuals so bluntly the viewers must attempt to piece together the narrative whilst keeping up with the escalating drama. All of which creates an enjoyable viewing experience.
The Last Day suffers from some tedium though. Several of the scenes felt quite samey and it was difficult to distinguish the characters. Whilst the pacing of the movie was one of its strengths, some viewers may find that the whirlwind effect may make it hard to penetrate the story and immerse one’s self in the atmosphere. That being said, if you can get on board with the flow and tone of the piece, then there is a lot to be drawn into.
Dystopian films are often better when they are left unexplained, and by offering up no lines for the actors this is taken a step further to enhance the intrigue. A myriad of possible storylines could be concocted to explain how these characters ended up in this situation which makes it compelling and fascinating. There also feels like a video game vibe here, whereby you are dropped into the action and left to make sense of it. Either way it feels engaging and exciting.
Fans of intense anti utopian movies, or futuristic silent films, or both, will find The Last Day a worthy watch and something to ponder a while after watching.