Well executed and performed, but frequently predictable and sometimes straining credibility, the home invasion thriller The Last Exit (which screened at this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival, following a release in the UK earlier in the year where it was titled Little Bone Lodge) gets by on making sure the tension is kept in all the proper places.
A mother (Joely Richardson) living at a secluded, rural farmhouse in the Scottish highlands with her teenage daughter (Sadie Soverall) and the girl’s convalescing father (Roger Ajogbe) gets a shock one night when a mysterious commuter (Harry Cadby) frantically comes knocking after his brother (Neil Linpow) has been severely injured in an accident. It becomes clear that these two men aren’t who they claim to be, but that’s okay, because the woman they turned to for help isn’t who she claims to be, either.
Director Matthias Hoene gives The Last Exit plenty of moody atmosphere and ominous pacing, which more than makes up for the fact that the big reveal contained in the screenplay (provided by Linpow) has been built around a secret that can be gleaned in the opening seconds of the film. It also has far too many obvious Chekov’s Guns, including a literal rifle above a fireplace, and more than a handful of scenes that don’t make a lot of logical sense if you stop to think about them.
But what helps to elevate The Last Exit, outside of its admittedly exciting final twenty minutes, are the performances and character interactions. Richardson (who picked up the award for Best Villain at the festival) oozes with equal parts menace and curious empathy for some of the people around her, making The Last Exit compelling viewing for her efforts alone. Also, the brotherly relationship between Cadby and Linpow is exceptionally realized and performed, often reminiscent around a similar partnership depicted in the Safdie Brothers’ Good Time. It’s an average riff on a good concept, and doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny, but The Last Exit still has some undeniably compelling elements to make it interesting.
The Last Exit screened as part of the 2023 Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
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