Perry Bhandal (director)
Kirlian Pictures (studio)
23 April 2019 (released)
22 April 2019
This post-apocalyptic drama starts promising enough with a quote by 13th century Persian poet Rumi. However, despite its intriguing storyline the film somehow manages to fall flat due to an agonisingly slow pace and an ending that leaves more questions open than answered.
The year in which the story is set is not specified but we do find ourselves in a remote caravan somewhere in a forest where teenage boy Sira (Flynn Allen) tends to his dying mother (Aneta Poitrowska), though it isn’t made clear as to why time is running out for her. All we know is that Sira’s mother sends her boy on a quest to ‘the place that grants wishes’ - though getting there might not be easy: by the looks of it, civilisation as we know it has been pretty much wiped out with the big cities dead, and to worsen the scenario a strange ‘wind’ seems to chase human life forms (though seemingly not animals) and anyone trapped inside this wind turns to stone before crumbling to pieces. Sira’s Mum provides him with a map that illustrates which pathways to follow and which paths to avoid, for example any route close by a city spells danger while any way along water seems a safer option as the ‘wind’ somehow shies away from water (and certain geographical patterns). What’s more, Sira has some sort of scanner which can divert the wind by forming some sort of protective shield. So far, so good… almost sounds like something out of Dr. Who!
And so, after his mother has passed on, Sira grabs his rucksack and off he goes, embarking on a journey unknown. Along the way he finds a young girl, Lilly (Matilda Freeman), crouching by the side of a barn and clearly just as lonely as he is. Lilly explains that she lost her Dad due to the ‘wind’ and so she joins Sira on his journey. Some time later Sira and Lilly observe a strange group wandering along a field, comprised of strangely clad young women holding huge clay pots and a sinister looking priest clad in a monks outfit (Peter Guinness). Suddenly the ‘wind’ attacks but hey, the priest also has a device that’s supposed to avert this strange and deadly force though it’s Sira’s device which saves the small group of travellers. They follow the group which takes refugee in a desolated gothic church although it becomes obvious they have made it their home some time ago. The priest turns out to be sinister and wields power of the women, which are his disciples. He orders one of them to chuck Sira and Lilly in a cell and later tries to blackmail Sira into revealing his knowledge of why his scanner seems to work better, why the route drawn on his map depicts certain patterns and so on and so forth. Wary of the priest, Sira refuses to reveal anything, resulting in the priest ready to sacrifice young Lilly so that Sira’s tongue may loosen up a bit – instead, the ‘wind’ approaches and the priest gets to taste his own medicine. So far, so good…
While the women decide to remain in the chapel and its surrounding buildings, Sira and Lilly continue their journey through the forest. Enter British Army soldier Jay (Luke Goss) racing along a country road in his Jeep, chased by… well, you know what. In a daring stunt he jumps out of the car (which rolls on for another few yards) before blasting a hole through the windscreen and somehow this brave deed fools the ‘wind’ which blows away. Sadly, this is about the only piece of proper action we get to see in this film. Jay then stumbles across a desolated house though it is hinted it used to be his home and his wife also fell victim to… well, you know. While sitting by the window contemplating his future (or perhaps he’s just wondering in which direction the script might be going) he spots Sira and Lilly wandering across the field. And now there were three, soon to be four as they manage to save the life of a young woman called Jesse (Jennifer Scott) just in the nick of time before… well, you know. The small group then spend the night in the house with Jay and Jesse pondering over their losses, their future (is there one?) and most importantly, how to outwit the … well, you know what. What could have turned out like a real deep philosophical discussion between two adults unfortunately turns out to be an overlong and almost boring dialogue which does precious little to liven up the action. The following day Jay, Jesse, Sira and Lilly continue their way and enter a deserted mansion where they hope to find necessary equipment with which they can construct a much more powerful machine that can avert the deadly ‘wind’. A photograph of Jesse and a man called Martin (plus his remains on the floor) indicate that he too fell prey to… well, you know what. While figuring out the machinery, a mighty wind attacks again and unfortunately little Lilly is the next victim. With Jay, Jesse and Sira leaving the house, things get even more bizarre when some sort of illuminated tunnel opens up within the wind and the ghost of Jay’s wife appears – when he runs to her to grab her hand the ‘tunnel’ collapses above him and so does he, together with his wife. Next the ghost of Lilly and Sira’s mother appear in a renewed tunnel, though Sira, clever as he is, manages to remain unharmed while Lilly and his mother remain as a whole and wander off into some bright light, swept away by the wind. Now only Jesse and Sira are left standing in the field, with Sira indicating that he’s going to continue his journey into the unknown.
It is never explained how the strange ‘wind’ comes about and what it actually is – is it some weird alien life form? It cannot have nuclear causes, for if this were the case all forests would have ceased to flourish as well and yet, there is plenty of splendid countryside throughout the film (stunningly captured by cinematographer Richard Swingle). We are also at a loss as to why Sira doesn’t appear to be more of a tortured soul, after all, he just lost his mother to a disease which sounds like cancer but is not because on her deathbed she something that indicates other forces are responsible. With so many questions left open, this is a confusing odyssey to say the least. How Rumi’s poems and mystical musings run into this storyline equally remains a mystery. At least Luke Goss manages to infuse his character with the right amount of ‘I’m a tortured soul’ vibe, though in the wider scheme of things it doesn’t make much difference as he never gets the opportunity to display his full potential here. Beautifully photographed, THE LAST BOY really could have been something were it not for a script that, halfway through, decides to go nowhere. Seeing how director Perry Bhandal is responsible for the scriptwriter, the direction suffers due to limitations derived from this script.