Directed by Sonny Fernandez
Written by Sonny Fernandez
Starring Liz Dokter, Kim Haarman, Chelsea Hagel, Justin Kavlie, Sam Ova, & Dan Sorenson
Find out more info on this film here!
It’s hard to look around and see a true independent spirit in film. Even micro-budget films like MONSTERS are filmed for at the very least thousands of dollars and that’s before the million dollar ad campaign touting that it was filmed on the cheap. I remember growing up and filming mini-monster films with my friends. My goals were lofty and my intentions were in the right place. Of course, soon after filming one epic scene or two, my attention would go elsewhere or my stars would have to go home for dinner and another blockbuster was left unfinished. I imagine Sonny Fernandez did the same thing. The difference is that he decided to stick with it, write a great script, and piece a film together with a zero budget, and distribute it. There will be those that call Sonny Fernandez’s film THE LAST BATTLEGROUND amateur trash. And sure, if you’re comparing it to standards of studio released films, it doesn’t really hold up. But I found in this film a charm and spunk that I haven’t seen in too many studio films in recent memory.
Fernandez’s appeal lays with the lofty goals he sets in his story and the lengths he goes to achieve them by spending the least amount of money possible. The cast appears to be a bunch of Fernandez’ friends; a bunch of normal to nerdy looking dudes and a handful of cute, pierced indie chicks (love me some pierced indie chicks, BTW). But every one of them, despite their amateur acting status, are giving it their all. Performances such as the deadpan delivery style of the two hitmen and especially the standout performance from goth chick Lisa Doktor rise above the rest as pretty damn effective. I’ve seen worse acting in full budget films, so that’s saying a lot.
Fernandez has filled his film with likable losers banding together to face a giant world-threatening Lovecraftian menace and though the story is lofty and beyond its own budget, he saves the day with a pretty punchy script. I’ve interspersed some of the more memorable lines in the film in this review. Sure, at times the delivery is Tarrantino-ian, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I laughed out loud at Fernandez’s smart dialog and fun twists.
A huge part of the charm of THE LAST BATTLEGROUND is Fernandez’ monsters which look to be made from paper-maché and tape and tin foil. Again, there will be those who scoff and guffaw at this amateur make-up effect, but to me I found myself giggling with glee as the actors ran in fear from these not so scary monsters. It reminded me of the schlocky horror films of the 50’s and 60’s where a man in a monster suit chases around folks and though it’s not scary either now, it is fun to watch.
I don’t want to oversell THE LAST BATTLEGROUND. It’s amateur hour, but it’s also a lot of fun. Fernandez has a few more films under his belt and I look forward to checking those out too in future AICN HORROR columns. The guy’s got moxie. He writes his films, directs them, edits them, does the effects. He’s a true indie spirit in horror and one deserving of attention. It’d be interesting to see what this filmmaker could do with an actual budget. For now, if you’re in the mood for an unpolished, yet charming as hell horror film, THE LAST BATTLEGROUND fits the bill nicely.