The Last Resort has some of the makings of sleazy horror goodness -- a haunted house, nubile young women, even an older fortune-teller with a scary premonition, for Pete's sake -- but then fritters it all away with drab storytelling and a surprising, if misguided, amount of restraint.
Such unfortunate tastefulness certainly doesn't apply to its opening prologue. At what appears to be a ramshackle hotel in the Mexican countryside, a man furiously scribbles a letter while a terrified woman, bound and gagged, is on her knees beside him. Then, in a move that would make Herschell Gordon Lewis proud, the man grabs a butcher knife, carves out the woman's tongue and rubs it against his own tongue. He manages to cackle maniacally (is there any other way to cackle?) before a band of locals burst in and pump him full of lead.
Still with me? If so, don't mistake this straight-to-DVD knockoff for the usual torture porn. The opening shocker transitions to an unspecified number of years later. A good-time American gal, Kathleen (Marissa Tait), is getting married in a week, and so she and her chums -- Sophia (America Olivo), Jessica (Arianne Zuker), Beth (Sita Young), Amber (Paulie Rojas) -- are in Mexico for the bachelorette party.
Director Brandon Nutt soft-pedals the potential exploitation high jinks. The gals drink and say "penis" a lot. Sophia breaks off from the posse for a one-night stand with an American teacher (Nick Ballard) she meets in a bar, but not before a street vendor reads Sophia's palm and finds ... something scary.
The next morning, the remaining four friends happen upon two guys claiming to be tour guides. In the first of many stupid decisions, the bachelorettes hire the pair to drive them around in a ratty van. Not surprisingly, the men rob the women, shoot Kathleen in the leg and leave them stranded in the barren country. The women search for help and eventually seek shelter in an abandoned resort area. Yes, in that resort area.
In a curious twist on slasher-film convention, it is the promiscuous gal, Sophia, who emerges as the heroine, as she and her recent lay search for the missing foursome. That's about the only tweak on the genre, however. What follows is fairly mundane spooky-house-possesses-tenants stuff. Usually carefree Kathleen lashes out at her friends. Level-headed Jessie turns violent. Virginal Beth masturbates. Skinny Amber gorges in the kitchen.
It might sound like enticing drive-in fodder, but The Last Resort doesn't even have fun with its own absurdity. Sex and gore, like suspense, is kept to a minimum. Neither staging nor camerawork distinguish themselves much, while the level of acting ranges from tolerable to lame.
Presented in widescreen anamorphic 2.35:1, the picture quality is actually strong for a film of this kind, with strong lines and decent details.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital is clean, crisp and gets the job done, although it makes only modest use of rear speaker action. Optional subtitles are in English and Spanish.
All that Lionsgate adds is a theatrical trailer and previews for Frontier(s) and The Slaughter.
I'd make a snarky comment about renting this bottom-tier horror flick only as a last resort, but that would be too easy. So I won't say it.