James Hoffman (James Le Gros) is posted at a remote Arctic oil drilling base to evaluate its environmental impact and he inevitably clashes with Ed Pollack (Ron Perlman), who is the tough chief of the crew. Pollack just wants Hoffman to rubber-stamp the operation so that drilling for oil can begin, but the environmentalist doesn’t want to play ball.
With people behaving strangely, going missing and dying, Hoffman hypothesises that a type of natural gas is leaking from the permafrost due to the effects of climate change: this sour gas could be the reason people are having hallucinations and acting oddly.
As weird events continue, characters ponder whether nature has turned against all of mankind and maybe we’re approaching a ‘Last Winter’ – when the ‘spirits/ghosts’ of the creatures that comprise fossil fuels rise up to kill us.
Shot in Iceland and Alaska, Larry Fessenden’s movie is an intriguing and pretty effective slow burn film, featuring decent acting and some briefly-seen spectral caribou creatures seemingly released from the earth to avenge man’s destruction of the environment.
The spirit-creatures are only hinted at through most of the film, presented occasionally as some kind of swirling spirit-storm, but we do get a good look at several of the large, ghostly caribou-things a couple of times later in the story and, for the most part, they look okay, though there’s some dodgy CGI featured in one particular overhead shot when the creatures close-in on a character.
Ron Perlman’s performance is rather one-note – but, as a whole, THE LAST WINTER is a quite satisfying, modestly budgeted, eerie movie – though I feel the makers didn’t quite know how to deal with the creatures once they are properly revealed onscreen. The film, however, is certainly way, way better than Fessenden’s killer fish movie BENEATH (2013).