Here's an official description of The Last Survivors:
THE LAST SURVIVORS centers on a teenage girl fighting to protect the last working well in a drought-stricken land. At the edge of an expansive, dusty valley, all that remains of the Wallace Farm for Wayward Youth are some hollowed-out husks of buildings. Seventeen-year-old Kendal (Haley Lu Richardson of The Bronze, and ABC Family's Ravenswood) can barely recall when the Oregon valley was all lush farmland. It's been a decade since the last rainfall, and society at large has dried up and blown away.
Kendal and her last friend on earth, Dean (Booboo Stewart, The Twilight Saga, X-Men: Days of Future Past) barely scrape by while dreaming of escape. Dean is ill and can stay alive only by drinking water regularly – luckily, he and Kendal have access to a special well with enough water for both of them. But when a greedy water baron lays claim to what little of the precious resource remains underground, Kendal must decide whether to run and hide or bravely fight for the few cherished things she has left.
The Last Survivors is not a fast-paced film. In fact, it's a lesson in patience for those of us who enjoy movies such as these, when good triumphs over evil. It also helps if you have a disdain for corporations as, you guessed it, the big big bad in this particular flick comes with a corporate disguise.
It's not what I would have chosen as the water baron, especially given there is such a lack of information about this world from simply viewing the movie. As a matter of fact, I learned a lot more from reading the description above than I did actually watching the film. Dean's name, the location of the action, their history as wayward youth almost slipped past me as Kendal ran to and fro in the dusty wasteland. It was well into the second half of the film before it started coming together.
Considering the barren land and the wide open expanse, there are an awful lot of people making their way across it unannounced and unseen, something that seems virtually impossible when you can see so far into the distance. It is, however, a stunning distance to look at. Filmed on location in Lucerne Valley, Mojave Desert, it's not at all difficult to imagine the challenges of a life with limited water supplies.
Watching The Last Survivor means suspension of disbelief. You need to assume in a shell of what was once a full home, no longer sporting windows or walls, that a young girl could sprint around inside sight unseen from outside while several others look on intently. In reality, it simply wouldn't happen.
There is no explanation as to what happened to the world, or if it's only this particular valley that's affected so severely by drought. There seems to be no shortage of mason jars brimming with delectable fruit, but it's unclear where it's stored.
Also unclear is why the water baron's henchmen would wear the burlap/gas mask getups or even feel the need to take down the few citizens left in the area when there is so little resistance to them swooping in and taking water from their well.
Alas, without all these nits of which I pick, there would be no movie. And Haley Lu Richardson does a fine job as the only person out there who can really do much of anything at all to help the few of them who are left against the corporate water baron. And it's really Kendal's story.
Richardson has to convey with body language and facial expressions what would, in other films, be done with dialog. While I may not have gotten the details, there was no doubt as to her desires, determination and staggering losses she suffered along the way. It's a lot for a 20-year-old to carry on her shoulders, but she did it well.
The Last Survivors is out on DVD, Blu-Ray and across all digital platforms today, August 4, 2015.