The Last Days (Los últimos días) review

Set in contemporary Barcelona, The Last Days is an apocalyptic science fiction film in which an outbreak of agoraphobia (dubbed The Panic by the media) causes social breakdown on a global scale. Mark (Gutiérrez) is a computer programmer who has been trapped for months in his office, he’s desperate to escape and find his girlfriend Julia (Etura). However for victims of The Panic setting foot outside is fatal, and a street may as well be a chasm. As their food supplies are nearly exhausted the trapped office workers tunnel through the office basement into the city’s underground transit system.

Marc teams up with Enrique (Coronado), ironically a management consultant charged with firing the staff who has been forced to spend months in confinement with them. The two men strike an uneasy deal to help each other to their chosen destinations, as Marc has found a torch and Enrique a GPS unit and traveling underground requires both.

The Pastor brothers clearly have an attraction to apocalyptic stories, their last film was the english language Carriers - which played the FrightFest Halloween all nighter in 2009. Carriers concerned a few survivors trying to survive in a world devastated by a viral pandemic. The Last Days is not as bleak as the earlier film, with a simple story of a guy trying to get back to his girl at its heart.

If the story is simpler, visually The Last Days is far more ambitious than the earlier film. Creating a convincing end of the world is relatively easy in remote desert locations as the Pastor’s did in Carriers, far less so when the setting is a major urban metropolis. One of this film’s strengths is imaginative and effective use of locations. Because the story largely unfolds in subterranean environments, the directors effectively deploy a range of unusual interiors creating a potent sense of claustrophobia which is occasionally deliberately broken when the characters are able to enter buildings and gain an elevated point of view.

The leads Gutiérrez and Coronado work well together, initially distrustful but forced together by circumstance. Etura has a rather thankless role as the love interest largely confined to flashbacks that give the hero his motivation, although she is not quite a simple damsel in distress. Of course the process of reaching their goals is not simple for either of the main characters, in the months they have been trapped in the office society has collapsed into chaos and barbarism. Although this is more of a science fiction film than a horror movie, there is some carnage including an effective battle scene in a fortified supermarket.

Ultimately The Last Days is walking in the footsteps of many end of the world stories that have preceded it so don’t expect anything particularly radical. The film’s first third is quite ponderous, but it improves as it goes on and uses its resources wisely to create a convincing but low key armageddon. The final scenes rather over egg the pudding with a little too much emotive score but this is still a visually arresting addition to the sub-genre with more heart than most.

The Last Days (Los últimos días) at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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