With Mad Max: Fury Road having blazed a trail last year, and Katniss’ story coming to an end in the second part of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, The Last Survivors arrives at a time when female characters are not simply strong because they can kick hard.
Sometime in the future, the world has been crippled by a ten-year drought. In a valley somewhere in America, a water baron by the name of Carson (John Gries) has taken it upon himself, like any good George Miller antagonist would, to round up anybody using his precious water on their dilapidated farmland. Hayley Lu Richardson plays Kendal, a young woman keeping her head whilst those around her literally lose theirs. Having managed to hide herself and her ill partner (Booboo Stewart) from the machinations of the corrupt baron and his small army, she soon finds that time and water are running out.
Visually bleached to the bone, The Last Survivors plays out like the adaptation of a Young Adult novel that’s yet to be written, where youth must triumph over the old. Kendal, however, is a resourceful protagonist who isn’t trying to lead a revolution, but just trying to survive. Richardson plays her with ruthless efficiency, and there are chills when she confesses to her boyfriend that she hadn’t planned on him surviving as long as she has.
John Gries (Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite!), meanwhile, plays Carson as the hero in his own story, forgoing the usual villain’s arched eyebrow and moustache twirling. Both Carson and Kendal don’t want to have to hurt anyone really, but needs must when the devil drives. At times, like its cast of characters, The Last Survivors looks a little rough around the edges, but it certainly achieves more than its glossy compatriots.